Turning Sketches Into Masterpieces

A rare exhibit of sketches made by Raja Ravi Varma and their final finished work which is a prized possession in private collections and museums across the world.

By Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation

Sketch Of A Young Girl (1896) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

The sketches reveal Ravi Varma's meticulous eye for detail and the positioning of his subjects in what have turned out to be some of his most-viewed and sought-after works.

These sketches are partial details of a painting. This is possibly an exemplar of the little girl as seen in Ravi Varma's work titled 'Gypsies' which is in the collection of Sri Chitra Art Gallery.

Gypsies of South India or Poverty (1896-10-10) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Sri Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram

Notice the young girl in the exemplar. It reveals how the artist would envision and sketch each character and then bring them to life in a single frame.

Initial Sketch Of Gangawataran (1893) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

The exemplar for Shiva as seen in Ravi Varma's Gangawataran or 'Descent of Ganga.'

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

The artistic reference sketch of 'The Descent of Ganga or Gangawataran'. Only the figure of Parvati, which is seen in the original shown in the next panel, is missing here.

Gangavataran (The Descent of Ganga) (1890) by Ravi Varma PressOriginal Source: From the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation

The striking similarity between the sketches shows Lord Shiva in his majestic glory.

The final version of Ravi Varma's famous 'Descent of Ganga or Gangawataran' where Shiva controls the powerful deluge of Ganga with his matted hair.

A Sketch of Padmini (1870-01-01) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

An exemplar to 'Padmini', the lady in the pink diaphanous sari, which found its way into the advertising world as the work was widely featured on posters and labels.

Padmini (1890) by Ravi Varma PressOriginal Source: From the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation

A reproduction of 'Padmini', the pretty nymph that was part of a tri-series created in the Ravi Varma Press.

Vishnu Seated On Garuda (1890) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

The initial sketch for Ravi Varma's iconic 'Vishnu Garuda Vahan'. The outline of the mystical bird and Lord Vishnu with his consorts is clearly visible

Vishnu Garuda Vahana (1890) by Ravi Varma PressOriginal Source: From the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation

Ravi Varma's 'Vishnu Garuda Vahan', where Lord Vishnu is seated on the fierce Garuda along with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi

Woman Reclining On The Waterfront (1898-02-04) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

This sketch might have been done while the artist was preparing to paint 'Shakuntala Partalekhan'. Stunningly, the artist may have started out with this version but ended with Shakuntala facing the other way.

Shakuntala Patralekhan (1895) by Ravi Varma PressOriginal Source: From the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation

A reproduction of the artist's work titled 'Shakuntala Patralekhan'; the original oil on canvas is part of a private collection. Notice Shakuntala leaning on her left hand in contrast to the original sketch.

Sketch Of An Unconscious Woman (1897) by Raja Ravi VarmaOriginal Source: Collection of Parthasarathy Varma on loan to Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru

The artist has envisioned Kaikeyi fallen on the ground, as seen in 'Dasharath Kaikeyi Vilaap' In this sketch, her face is covered unlike the original in the next panel.

Dasharatha Kaikeyi Vilap (1890) by Ravi Varma PressOriginal Source: From the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation

This reproduction of 'Dasharath Kaikeyi Vilaap' confirms what the artist was planning in the previous sketch. It shows her beautiful, yet sulking face, a feature of Ravi Varma's subjects.

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.
Photographs of Kilimanoor Palace: Jay Varma

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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