The Lines That Shaped The Artist

By Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation

Artists employ a meticulous approach to painting. It often begins with pencil, develops into more detailed workings with charcoal, before finally plotting the drawing on canvas. Such were Ravi Varma's exalted standards, eye for detail and perfection that he tolerated no mistake, even from his own brush. 

Woman With Melancholy Expression (1885) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Portrait of a woman in a pensive mood

Done in water colour wash, notice the expression captured in her eyes.

Her eyes, reflecting light, but with partially lowered lids, speak volumes of the artist's mastery at capturing expression.

Sketch Of A Lady (circa. 1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

A signed water colour of a young woman; judging by her nose ornament, she is probably from the North or West of India.

Ravi Varma depicted a region through his portrayal of jewellery on the female form. This type of nose ornament, though generic in design, was mostly worn by women from Maharashtra or Gujarat.

Portrait Study Of A Man (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Another water colour portrait, this time of a Maratha aristocrat or nobleman.

The manner in which the man holds his head high indicates his social status.

The garment, as drawn by the artist, was only worn by Maharashtrian men.

In Conversation (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

A Parsi couple painted in great detail, though their expression is a tad sombre.

Though the artist's strokes are not detailed the manner in which the sari is draped and details of embroidery on the sari border indicate the woman to be Parsi.

Notice the expressions on their faces; they remain unsmiling, indicating a sombre mood that the artist is trying to communicate.

At The Railway Station (1891) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Another of the many paintings of the Parsi community done by the Ravi Varma; this one too is done in water colour wash.

Woman With Musical Instrument (1880) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Pencil sketch of a woman playing a musical instrument. Her garment is more Western than Indian.

Men In Headdress (1885) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

This could be a study of form and facial expression, done in pencil on paper.

Man With A Hookah (1885) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation

A water colour and pencil sketch of a Rajasthani or Gujarati tribesman. He holds in his hand an object that appears to be some sort of hookah.

Pencil sketch of a turbaned man (1870-01-01) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Here the artist sketches a West Asian or European man. Ravi Varma was deeply influenced by European artists and could have seen a picture or painting of a man dressed similarly.

Man Carrying Pots (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Vendors sold butter and curd in pots balanced on their shoulder, as depicted in this work done in pencil and water colour.

Muslim Men Praying (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Muslim men praying - Ravi Varma spent a lot of time in the Nizam's court in Hyderabad. The play of shadows in this water colour work is brilliant.

Woman Washing Clothes (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

A domestic scene done in water colour of a young woman filling water in a large utensil.

The Barber (1885) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Barbers often visited the homes of noblemen to treat them to a shave and hair cut. The artist captures the scene in pencil and water colour on paper.

Drawing of a woman reading a book (1870-01-01) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

This pencil sketch shows a woman seated on a floor mat, reading a book. Such subjects were close to the artist's heart.

Toddy Tapper (1895) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Signed by the artist and dated 1891, this water colour sketch shows a soldier holding a rifle. Notice the train in the background and the careful detail to trees and foliage.

A Young Scholar (1893) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

Possibly a young scholar deep in study. Medium - pencil on paper.

A Sleeping Woman (1891) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

A sketch of a woman asleep on a settee, done entirely in pencil on paper.

A Musician (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

A signed work of a musician playing a sitar done in water colour.

The Coup (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

A palace scene depicted in much detail, sketched with pencil on paper.

Credits: Story

From: "The Image Collection" of Parthasarathy Varma (Mavellikara Kotaram) on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation
The original sketches are owned by, and in the present collection of DAG Private Limited.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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