by Raja Ravi Varma
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Medium: Oleograph
Condition: Minor Tear on Top
Size: 21 x 15.5 inches (Framed)
Signature: Bottom Left


Gangavataran literally translates to 'The Descent of Ganga', and shows Lord Shiva in all his glory.
In Hindu mythology, Bhagiratha was the king of Kosala, a kingdom in ancient India. To absolve his ancestors of their sins, Bhagiratha performed a rigid penance, on being told that only the water from Ganga can purify their sins. Pleased with his determination, Lord Brahma granted him his wish and Ganga, on Brahma's orders, came gushing down, unaware of her power and surge. The gushing water threatened to destroy everything in it's path, and Brahma advised Bhagiratha to pray to Shiva for help. Lord Shiva came to the earth's rescue by standing upright and directing Ganga's flow into his hair.
This oleograph, carrying the signature of the artist Raja Ravi Varma, shows Bhagiratha standing in devotion and looking at Shiva. Shiva's consort, Parvati, also looks on, while leaning on the Lord's mount, Nandi.
There is a small tear on the top left of the artwork, and the signature is partially hidden at the bottom left.
  • ABOUT Raja Ravi Varma

    Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) was a celebrated Indian artist, famous for his realistic portrayal of Indian gods, goddesses and mythological characters, in scenes adapted mainly from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas.

    Considered to be one of the greatest painters in the history of Indian art, Ravi Varma fused European techniques with a pure Indian sensibility. Though a protégé of royalty, Raja Ravi Varma was the first to make prints (or lithographs) of his artworks affordable and easily available, bringing fine art to the masses. In fact, the Raja Ravi Varma Press was started in Mumbai by him in 1894, and managed by his brother Raja Varma, before being bought over by a German company. 

    An original 1890 Ravi Varma oil on canvas, titled 'Radha In The Moonlight' was sold for a whopping Rs. 20 crores at a Pundole auction in November 2016.

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  • ABOUT Oleographs

    Oleographs, also called chromolithographs, are multi-colour art prints, stemming from the process of lithography. Pioneered in the 1830s, the process of producing oleographs came into wide commercial use in the 1860s. The technique relied on using several woodblocks or stones with colours for printing, while hand-colouring remained an important aspect as well. Depending on the number of colours present, an oleograph could take months to produce by very skilled workers. Poor preservation and cheaper printing alternatives have made oleographs hard to find. Today, they are mainly used as fine art.

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