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Significant Indian Paintings Significant Indian Paintings RAJA RAVI VARMA (1848 - 1906)
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From the collection of a prominent Delhi family that acquired it through Kamaladevi Chattopadhaya in the mid-1950s.
This painting by Raja Ravi Varma is the lesser known version of the subject of Arjuna & Subhadra, prepared in all probability, prior to its more renowned alternative. In both the paintings the figurative postures of Arjuna and his consort Subhadra remain the same except for the modifications of the costumes and background landscape. Here Arjuna’s disguise as an ascetic is presented with a severe austerity while the artist superbly captures Subhadra’s reticence towards his loving gesture. In the latter rendition however we see Subhadra smiling in shy submission after having learnt her consort’s true identity. When compared with its other counterpart the painting speaks volumes about the artist’s precision in capturing flitting moments of emotion.
The present work is therefore crucial as it forms the missing link between the different phases of stylistic development and representational vocabulary of Raja Ravi Varma. The present work confirms more to the representational styles he mastered in the early half of his illustrious career in lieu to the traditions of the Tanjore School and Company School of Madras in difference to the latter version which is more drawn towards European Realism.
National Art Treasure / Non Exportable.