Playing Cards

Art History/Craft History

Playing Cards

Gordhandas, Kishor N.

KEYWORDS
No art is more popular in India than calendar art, and calendar art, here is dominated by the colorful reproduction of the many Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu pantheon and scenes from religious myths and legends. Today the art- form has developed in several different styles, but in all of these the influence of one man can be found, and he is the renowned painter, Raja Ravi Varma of Travancore, a prince of a Kerala Royal family. It was Raja Ravi Varma who first gave the Hindu Goddesses faces and forms of unsurpassed beauty and grace. Indian art will always be indebted to the painter who though born a prince, carved a niche for himself as a prince of painters. But though Raja Ravi Varma is remembered today for his immortal paintings of Hindu Religious themes, few know that he pioneered the process, the western art of oil painting in India.
Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was born in Kilimanoor Palace, 40 kms. From Trivandrum and was the son of Umamber Thamurathi and Neelkandan Bhattathiripad. As a boy of five or six, Ravi Varma filled the walls of his home with the pictures of animals and vignettes from everyday life. His uncle, the artist, Raja Raja Varma, discovered in him the signs of a genius in the making. He was taught Malayalam and Sanskrit at home and to these were added drawing. At the time he was 14, he had secured the patronage of the Maharaja of Travancore. The Maharaja himself an avid art lover, got Ravi Varma to move to Trivandrum; set up a studio for him and supplied him with European art books. It was ...