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Raja Ravi Varma’s “Birth of Shakuntala” Oleograph 1894
This unique Raja Ravi Varma’s Birth of Shakuntala oleograph was the first that came out of the press in 1894. The Raja Ravi Varma Fine Arts Lithograph Press(FAL Press) had newly opened at that time. And this is perhaps the only one to survive today from the first batch. Making it the rarest of the Ravi Varma oleographs or chromolithograph.
Raja Ravi Varma not only did the artwork on the heavy litho stones but had also supervised the printing personally. He desired to get the Birth of Shakuntala oleograph batch to the exact likeness of his oil painting. A sophisticated German steam press At the FAL press executed the printing work. Because of its age of 125 years, it was not in perfect condition when I received it first.
Expert art conservator Mrs Rupika did a skillful job in restoring this oleo to its near original condition. The bottom border with the title could only be partially restored because of deterioration. For those unfamiliar with Mrs Rupika Chawla, that she is an art conservationist, author, and expert on Raja Ravi Varma. Her book “Raja Ravi Varma: Painter of Colonial India” is a bestseller.
She had also issued me with a letter of authenticity for this rare 1894 Ravi Varma oleo. Remarkably the original wooden frame and glass were in excellent condition. It measures- 2½ x 3½ feet and weighs 10kgs. Read also- Raja Ravi Varma’s Oleographs, and Raja Ravi Varma: When the Gods Came Home. See my post- Raja Ravi Varma’s Portrait Photo – Old Postcard 1904.
Did You Know- he passed away in 1906 at the age of 58 because of diabetes. He was so newsworthy even then that many international and Indian news agencies camped at Kilimanoor on his dying days recording his last moments.
From my collection- Raja Ravi Varma’s “Saraswati” Oleograph c1910., Rare Advertisement Taj Palace Hotel Bombay 1907., Crawford Market & Tram In Mumbai- Old Postcard 1914., Bombay War Charity WW1 In British India – Old Print 1917., Antique Photo Malik-I-Maidan Canon 1880., Antique Map Plan Of Fort At Coylan