PTI | | Posted by Akanksha Agnihotri, Bengaluru

The ‘hitherto unseen’ portrait of Raja Ravi Varma featuring his eldest granddaughter as a three-year-old toddler, unveiled in Bengaluru on the occasion of his 176th birth anniversary on April 29, will continue to be open for public viewing till May 30. Ravi Varma’s eldest granddaughter, Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (1895-1985), was the last ruling queen of Travancore and was considered a living goddess by her subjects. She had ruled the Kingdom of Travancore for seven years from 1924 to 1931.

Bengaluru: Paintings as part of ‘Daughter of Providence’, an exhibition showcasing Raja Ravi Varma’s unseen paintings that celebrates the life and work of his eldest granddaughter Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, at Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, in Bengaluru.(PTI Photo)

The painting is also a never-seen-before portrait of the Maharani, whose life is well documented. Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation (RRVHF) had mounted a show on her titled, ‘Daughter of Providence,’ tracing the chronology of how the three-year-old toddler painted by Ravi Varma went on to become the queen, who is known even today for the social reforms she brought about. (Also read: Forbidden forest: Mridula Ramesh, on the alien invaders in our midst )

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RRVHF had acquired the painting from the Travancore royal family. “While the focus of the foundation remains documentation and preservation of Raja Ravi Varma’s work, we often come across paintings done by the artist that have never been seen, researched, documented or published before they reach our hands. This painting of Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi as a three-year-old girl is one such work that needs to be spoken about,” said Gitanjali Maini, managing trustee and CEO of RRVHF.

The exhibition was conceptualised by the foundation with research and documentation by historian Manu S Pillai, who wrote an award-winning book, The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore, on the life ofMaharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi.

Raja Ravi Varma revolutionised the way Indian gods, goddesses, and mythological figures were portrayed. Born in 1848 in Travancore (present-day Kerala), Varma’s artistic genius blended traditional Indian art forms with European techniques, resulting in vivid and realistic depictions.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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