Raja Ravi Varma’s Inspiring Models – 3 Postcards 1900

bombay songstress

The Bombay Songstress


shakuntala and maids

Shakuntala with maids

Three old 1900 photo postcards of models who inspired Raja Ravi Varma for his paintings. The first postcard shows the Bombay Songstress who was actually a classical musician. And could be any of the singers who modelled for Ravi Varma. This was one of the many scenes the great artist referred to before the composition of a painting.

It has not been possible to trace the original painting. It is likely that the Songstress may have inspired him to paint Kadambri. This same postcard has appeared in Rupika Chawla’s famous book “Raja Ravi Varma Painter of Colonial India.” The second postcard is that of Shakuntala With Maids. A drama play that seems to be in progress. To see this model in a painting go to Upcoming exhibition features iconic painter Raja Ravi Varma’s oleographs. 

maharastrian beauty

Maharastrian beauty

The third is that of Maharastrian Beauty, to see its oil painting by the great master go to Maharashtrian BeautyTheater and plays were once a regular entertainment in Bombay (Mumbai) before the advent of cinema. Raja Ravi Varma was a great patron of these plays whenever he was in Bombay. Models were practically important for Raja Ravi Varma as a preparatory study before embarking on a particular themed painting. Alternatively, he would also settle on postcards and images since female models were a bit hard to find in those days.

Did you know – that the most famous of the models of the artist was Anjanibai Malpekar, a dancer, singer, and courtesan, who was the muse of Ravi Varma’s later years. One of the subjects she modelled was for the painting “Mohini”

Past posts – India’s Oldest Hotel, Great Eastern, Old Photo1880., Madras Water Supply Red Hills Lake – Old Postcard 1907., Worli Fort In Mumbai Old Print 1930., Old Book – Old Delhi 10 Easy Walks 1997.

The images are of the actual items from my collection. And Not a photocopy, pirated, reproduced, stock photos, or taken from other sources.