Raja Ravi Varma: An Everlasting Imprint - The Shaping of an Artist

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About the Series: The six-volume series, Raja Ravi Varma: An Everlasting Imprint, explores the democratization of art in India through the country's foremost modern artist, Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) and the Ravi Varma Press. Ravi Varma is the central point in this narrative. Although instrumental in popularizing fine art and prints in India, he was not the only person working in this field. Biographies, hitherto, have mainly focused his life and contributions; but this series also studies the role of the many others who participated in this movement. His relatives, tutors, mentors, models, and societal and cultural influences are brought in. The functioning of the Ravi Varma Press is another focus of attention-it is intriguing to note that the establishment was at no point in time ever owned by Raja Ravi Varma, even though it was named after him. Those who carried forward the baton, borrowing and keeping alive the artist's style and icons in the world of cinema, theatre, fashion, design, fine art, are all documented. Along with the creators of this kind of art, the books also consider the opinions shared by viewers. After all, any amount of public fame and recognition entailed not only adulation and praise but also criticism, disapproval, evaluation.

The first volume looks at the life and times of Raja Ravi Varma and how he created images which found widespread acceptance and appreciation among common men and women. The second volume describes the setting up of the Ravi Varma Press and the transformative effects of its visual legacy. The remaining volumes look at specific themes depicted in the works of the artist and the Press. The third volume explores visuals and iconography of the divine, while the fourth volume deals with the epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The fifth volume discusses images from the Shrimad Bhagavatam, classical dramas and other Hindu texts, while the sixth and concluding volume turns to imagery of power and the allure of the feminine.

About the first volume: The first volume consists of two chapters. The first deals with the life and times of not only Raja Ravi Varma but also the other artists associated with him. The second chapter examines the various aspects which influenced the artist such as Hindu scriptures, dance, models, photography, European art, etc.

About the Author: Ganesh V. Shivaswamy is a lawyer from Bengaluru. In addition to his profession, he has taken up the task of structuring the artistic legacy of Raja Ravi Varma. His interest in the artist commenced with a glance of the chromolithographs from the Ravi Varma Press. He now has a substantial collection of the prints from the Press which may well be considered one of the most comprehensive.

In 2006, he commemorated the centennial death anniversary of the artist by creating the first online catalogue of prints from the Press. In 2016, he curated an exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru (Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India) titled "Royal Lithography and Legacy". In 2019 he established the Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation, which immediately thereafter partnered with Google Arts and Culture.

To commemorate 125 years since the establishment of the Ravi Varma Press, his Foundation launched chromolithographs from his collection on the Google platform. This was inaugurated by Her Highness Shubhangini Raje, Rajamata Ji of Baroda in September 2019. The following year, his foundation commemorated 150 years of the artist's professional career through further exhibits on the Google Arts & Culture platform.


  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: White Falcon Publishing; 1 edition (2023)
  • Author: Ganesh V. Shivaswamy
  • ISBN-13: 9781636408460
  • Product Dimensions:  8.27 x 1 x 11.69 Inches

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