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Lot 16: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), Shiva

Fine Art, Design & Lifestyle (SALE 0013)

by Bid & Hammer

December 9, 2012

Bangalore, India

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  • Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), Shiva
  • Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), Shiva
  • Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), Shiva
  • Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), Shiva
  • Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), Shiva
  • Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), Shiva
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Description: Shiva
oil on canvas
Signed and dated 1903 lower right
30 x 22 in National Art Treasure. Non-Exportable
ASI Registration Number: JBP/MP/Reg. No. 985

Condition Report: The painting has been recently restored by
Mr. Girish Koti of DWIJA Design & Art Conservation

Notes: The 'Shiva' painting reflects Raja Ravi Varma's deep understanding
of Hinduism and Indian mythology. His fascination for the
human form and his ability to masterfully capture the body's
grace is abundantly evident in his portrayals such as this. Shiva,
the omniscient yogi, who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash is
often depicted in rapt meditation. The serpents that garland him
denote wisdom and eternity. While he is often shown garlanded
around the neck with a snake however in this painting Raja Ravi
Varma takes liberties in wrapping the serpent around Shiva's waist
like a girdle. Shiva's place is unique among the Hindu pantheon
and his worship is a pan-Hindu tradition, practiced widely across
all of India. Benevolent as well as fearsome he is also depicted as
the Cosmic Dancer.
Eyes half closed in meditation, this is a rare painting by Raja Ravi
Varma of Shiva in the form of Dakshinamurthy. The brother to
Saraswathi Devi, Dakshinamurthy is Shiva in the form of the
God of Learning. Perhaps for this reason, the artist has adorned
the deity with strings of pearls.
He is engrossed in meditation, beyond material possessions and
ecstatic in simple surroundings. His hair is tied up in a knot,
adorned with the crescent moon. His forehead is smeared with
sacred ash and flashes a sparkling third eye. His ear holds the
'Makara Kundalam'. His four-hands hold the Kamandala (pot),
pustaka (book), akshamala (rosary) and chin-mudra (sign of
knowledge). He is seated in padmasana with a yoga-patta, in the
form of a snake. He is attired in a leopard skin. Raja Ravi Varma,
perhaps, used this painting as an exemplar for his oleograph
entitled 'Shankar'.

Provenance: In the possession of the current owner,
by descent from his grandfather, who was gifted this
painting by the young Nizam of Hyderabad in the

Artist or Maker: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906)

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