Raja Ravi Varma's legacy lingers in Kochi through original lithograph prints of his paintings

Raja Ravi Varma's legacy lingers in Kochi through original lithograph prints of his paintings
The painting titled Lady Musicians by Raja Ravi Varma (L), Viswanath (R)

Kochi: Lithography has been around for more than 20 decades and how will you feel if you could own one such artwork? G Viswanath Seth, an Ayurveda researcher and owner of Mysore Sandal Products in Mattanchery, is ecstatic by living this dream. He has in his possession his grandfather's collection of six series of the original lithograph prints of the famous original paintings of Raja Ravi Varma which are in the Baroda Palace.

These 'precious' artworks were passed on to him by his father Girivas Shet which was gifted by Viswanath's grandfather Rengayya Shet. The paintings in his possession are 'Lady Musicians' (galaxy of musicians), 'Viswamitra and Menaka', 'Victory of Indrajit', 'Sri Krishna As an Envoy', 'Sri Rama vanquishing the ocean' and 'Arjuna and Subhadra'.

Viswanath has now received the copyright for the original Litho print of the work 'Lady Musicians' (galaxy of musicians).

The copyright for the rest is pending before the Registrar of Copyright.

Viswanath's grandfather was a reputed supplier of silver filigree to the British dignitaries in India and became a coordinator in Fort Cochin British council. As India became Independent and the British Era ended, Rengayya Shet made litho prints for presenting to the British diplomats. The litho print was taken from original paintings of Sri Raja Ravi Varma from the Baroda Palace. Being a coordinator to the Fort Cochin British Council, he was granted permission to do so. No one else has been given permission to take litho prints or photo prints of these original paintings.

Raja Ravi Varma was born in 1848 in the royal family and was interested in painting. His contact with the British painter Theodore Jenson influenced him to his style. The importance of his paintings is that of the correlation of Hindu Mythological art with western art. The subject of his paintings are based on Hindu religious texts, legendary Kings and queens.

Interestingly the Original Litho print depicting Lady Musicians (Galaxy of Musicians) which is an iconic and monumental piece of the paintings of Sri Raja Ravi Varma was painted in 1889 and the same was commissioned and exhibited in United States in 1893 by Royal family of Mysore. This has won great admiration and respect in India and abroad. It portrays the diversity and unity of all communities in India.

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