New illustrated biography of Raja Ravi Varma
Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), closely related to royal family of Travancore, produced some 7,000 paintings of women and of Hindu gods and goddesses, blending European and Indian aesthetics and style
Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), closely related to the royal family of Travancore, produced some 7,000 paintings of women and of Hindu gods and goddesses, blending European and Indian aesthetics and style. He established the first lithographic press in India, which created prints of his mythology-inspired paintings, in particular scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It was a first big step towards making art affordable for everyone.
He won an award for an exhibition of his paintings at Vienna in 1873 and his works were also displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 and won him three gold medals. That he transcended time and space can be gauged from the fact that the Varma crater on the planet Mercury was named after him in 2013 by the International Astronomical Union.
Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan has now penned a biography aimed at children but which will also appeal to readers across the spectrum.
"Prince with a Paintbrush: The Story of Raja Ravi Varma" (Westland/Red Panda), is an inspirational tribute to a precocious child who, while others of his age were busy playing hopscotch with their friends, was painting on the walls of his house.
"The idea of a series on Indian artists had been in my mind for a while and I was writing poems inspired by Raja Ravi Varma's art. As I saw it, here was a famous 19th century Indian painter who blended European aesthetics with Indian images and connected the world more than a century ago, and yet so few children seemed to know him," Srinivasan said.
"When I heard from publisher Karthika a year ago that Westland had recently launched a children's imprint, Red Panda, I knew that my work would be carefully curated and professionally produced,” added Srinivasan, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
She is a children's author, poet, translator, editor and voice-over talent. She has done voice-work for documentaries, educational programs, journalistic initiatives and audiobooks. She has published children's books in India and the United States, including "A Pie Surprise and Other Stories", the award-winning "Indi-Alphabet", and most recently, "How Many Lines in a Limerick?"