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 175th Birth Anniversary Raja Ravi Varma

Context:

Ahead of the 175th birth anniversary fete of the legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma, erstwhile royal family of Kilimanoor has urged the Union government to posthumously confer the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, on him.

Relevance:

GS I- History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Raja Ravi Varma
  2. Bharat Ratna

About Raja Ravi Varma

  • A prolific artist, Raja Ravi Varma is believed to have made around 7,000 paintings before his death at the age of 58.
  • April 29 is the birth anniversary of the famed Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), remembered for giving Indians their western, classical representations of Hindu gods and goddesses.
  • Through his printing press, Varma’s humanised depiction of Hindu pantheon travelled beyond the surfaces of costly canvases, and into the prayer and living rooms of working-class homes.
  • His most famous works include Damayanti Talking to a Swan, Shakuntala Looking for Dushyanta, Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair, and Shantanu and Matsyagandha.
  • Varma was born into aristocracy at Kilimanoor in the erstwhile Travancore state of present-day Kerala, and was closely related to its royal family.
  • His uncle, Raja Raja Varma, noticed the younger Varma’s talent, and gave the latter initial lessons in painting.
  • Varma worked on both portrait and landscape paintings, and is considered among the first Indian artists to use oil paints.
  • Apart from painting Hindu mythological figures, Varma also made portraits of many Indians as well as Europeans.
  • Varma is also known for having mastered the reproduction of his work on the lithographic press– through which his paintings spread far and wide.
  • He continues to be regarded as the most important representative of the Europeanised school of painting in India.
  • His 1873 painting, Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair, won Varma prestigious awards including Governor’s Gold Medal when it was presented in the Madras Presidency, and Certificate of Merit at an exhibition in Vienna.
  • In 1904, the British colonial government awarded Varma with the Kaiser-i-Hind Gold Medal.
  • In 2013, a crater on the planet Mercury was named in his honour.
  • Ravi Varma’s works transcended painting; he was also a poet, scholar and a visionary far beyond his times.
Bharat Ratna
  • Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country.
  • Bharat Ratna is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour.
    • Recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
    • Only 3 Bharat Ratna Awards can be given in a year.
Therefore:
  • Bharat Ratna- 1st degree of honour
  • Padma Vibhushan- 2nd degree of honour
  • Padma Bhushan- 3rd degree of honour
  • Padma Shri- 4th degree of honour

-Source: The Hindu


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