Rukmini Varma is a leading Indian artist who paints in the classical tradition. Born in 1940 as Princess Bharani Thirunal Rukmini Bayi Thampuran of Travancore State, Rukmini is a great-great granddaughter of the master painter Raja Ravi Varma and custodian of his artistic legacy. She is also the Chairperson of The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation based in Bengaluru.
Having gone through a cataclysmic change in her life from being a princess to renouncing it all and living life as a commoner, Rukmini came out of a long sabbatical and exhibited her latest works in the series titled “Opulence and Eternity” in early 2017. Between painting and her prayers, Rukmini has penned this book on Raja Ravi Varma, with facts known only to her and drawn from hitherto unrevealed sources.
The sharp eye of Neelakantan
Bhattathiripad noted the young Ravi Varma tracing lines on the sand. His son
was a strange child in his opinion but he refrained from voicing it.
“What would this son of his become,
the scion of this strange race,” he wondered?
“Always, always drawing and
sketching things — was there a future in this?”
His wife, Umamba Bayi indulged
him too much.
All this fanciful sketching, it
was a dreamer’s life, thought Neelakantan.
From his father, Ravi Varma
learned to discipline his thoughts, from his mother the pictorial rhythms of
poetry and music, and from his uncle, Raja Raja Varma, the way to express it
all in concrete visual form, as he was doing on the sand.
* * *
an artist who not only keeps alive Raja Ravi Varma’s legacy, but is also his direct descendant, Rukmini Varma is a remarkable
source of stories,
anecdotes, and the mostfascinating details about this legendary Indian painter, viewing him
not only as her ancestor but also as a creative force who opened a whole new
chapter in India’s artistic tradition.
Rukmini Varma oﬀers to unravel the story of
Ravi Varma and all that made him the person he was, from a perspective that is
both new but also intimate and deeply personal - a combination that is
- Manu S. Pillai
Author, The Ivory Throne: Chronicles
of the House of Travancore