Raja Ravi Varma’s Portrait Photo – Old Postcard 1904

This is a rare photo postcard of Raja Ravi Varma from 1904. Shown with the Kaiser-i-Hind medal pinned onto his chest. The medal was awarded to him in 1904. The artist is a household name even today, he had an unconventional method of integrating European with Indian style of painting. Which had an almost lifelike effect.

Since everyone could not afford his paintings except for the few wealthy. On the suggestion of his good friend T. Madhava Rao, (Diwan of Travancore) opened a printing press in 1894. The Raja Ravi Varma Fine Arts Lithographic Press (or FAL Press) brought out oleographs of his paintings. The artist directly supervised the early editions of the oleographs.

These were the Birth of Shakuntala and Laxmi. Because of his painting assignments, he had little time, he let his financial partner to run the press. This proved disastrous because of the financial irregularities noticed while he was away. As huge debt accrued on his printing business he decided to sell it off. The biggest obstacle was in not finding a suitable buyer, his printing press lay idle for some years.

Finally selling it off to Fritz Schleicher the chief German technician in 1903 for a pittance. Fritz Schleicher gradually made his new business a huge financial success. That went on to publish millions and millions of copies. Enabling the masses to see their Gods and Goddesses for the first time in visual form. See my post on- Birth Of Shakuntala which was the first to come out of the press when he was still the owner in 1894.

Read also- A family affair: Few know about the artistic prowess of Raja Ravi Varma’s siblings.

Did You Know- he loved elephants, and had one time pacified a rogue elephant in his hometown  Kilimanoor, Kerala.

More from the collection- Vintage Postcard Bombay The Improvement Trust Office., Vintage Book 1967 – Kerala A Portrait Of The Malabar Coast.,   Antique Photo Of South Parade Road Bangalore., WWI German Cruiser Emden’s Sea Route Map 1914