125 years of the Ravi Varma Press

The Ravi Varma Press

The immense popularity of Ravi Varma’s paintings led to an initial suggestion by Sir Tanjavur madhava Row, the Dewan of Baroda suggesting the artist send some of his paintings to Europe to have them printed and circulated. This suggestion eventually led to the establishment of the Ravi Varma Press.

The Press was initially established in Bombay and commenced functioning in the year 1894. The first chromolithograph from the Press, the “Birth of Shakuntala” was launched on July 12,1894. In September of the same year, the Press issued prints of Lakshmi and Saraswati which were immensely popular among the Hindus.

The Press thereafter briefly shifted to Ghatkopar in Bombay and eventually moved to Lonavala where it continued to function till the 1980’s. Upon the discontinuation of the business the machinery was sold and the remaining material like the lithograph stones, progress prints, etc were acquired by the Hasta Shilpa Trust at Manipal where they are on display.

The images from the Press allowed pictures to reach the common man and were highly influential, altering the notions of religion imagery and aesthetic sensibilities of the people of the Indian sub-continent and beyond.

Ganesh Shivaswamy & Commemorating 125 years of the Ravi Varma Press.

2019 marked 125 years since the start of the Ravi Varma Press and the first talk in the series was delivered at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru. This was on July 12, 2019 (on the very day of the launch of the first print). This was followed by talks at the Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer Art Foundation, Chennai; the Maharaja Fatesingh Museum, Vadodara; the Lodhi, New Delhi (organized by the Apparao Galleries, Chennai);the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram and the JNAF (CSMVS), Mumbai.

The launch of the Google Arts & Culture platform of the Ganesh Shivaswamy Foundation also took place during this commemorative and an extensive collection of images of the chromolithographs from the Ravi Varma Press were uploaded on the platform. These were from the collections of Hemamalini and Ganesh Shivaswamy, Bengaluru; Aniruddha Haldipurkar, Karwar; Girish Prabhu, Bangalore among others. Google also uploaded 60 images from this collection which were captured using their Giga-pixel camera.

Participating Institutions

Talk on the occasion of the Commemorative at the NGMA, Bengaluru

Ganesh Shivaswamy delivers the first talk in the series at NGMA, Bengaluru on July 12, 2019.

Articles written for the Commemorative

The Ravi Varma Press – 125 Year Commemorative

This article explores the history of the Ravi Varma Press.

The Influence of the Ravi Varma Press

This article explores the influence of the Ravi Varma Press on various aspects of life.