The Foundation

kilimanoor palace

Why it began

The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation was established in 2015 to uphold the values and traditional expressions which the great artist sought to promote and delineate through his works, a rich cultural heritage that is not confined within geographical borders of just our country but the world in general.

With an intense passion for art and preserving the heritage of Raja Ravi Varma, the founders have embarked on a journey to promote his rich legacy, whose works continue to influence every walk of life - be it art and culture, theatre, education, religion, personal beliefs, attire and adornment and even films.

The Foundation works to sustain Varma’s heritage and engage with relevant stakeholders and the public, as do other foundations globally.

Our Objectives

Briefly, these are to:

1. Increase awareness of his work through lecture series, exhibitions, short films and books

2. Promote his legacy and document his influences on jewellery, textiles and on other artists, through exhibits and talks

3. Provide valid authentication for his original works created in oil

Who we are

The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation has been founded by a board of trustees.

Rukmini Varma

Bharani Thirunal Rukmini Bayi Thampuran


Princess Bharani Thirunal Rukmini Bayi Thampuran of Travancore State is the great-great granddaughter of the master painter Raja Ravi Varma and custodian of his artistic legacy through The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation.

In accordance with the Marumakkathayam tradition and the matrilineal method of devolution, Rukmini, 76, is the titular Maharani of Travancore. Her grandmother Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, was Raja Ravi Varma's granddaughter. Born to Mahaprabha, she was adopted into the Travancore Royal Family in 1900 and ruled the state between 1924 and 1931.

Talking about Raja Ravi Varma she says "Creativity, he has proved, has no boundaries or barriers." In the realisation of an all-persuasive connection and resonance of idealism my great-great grandfather has painted a variety of subjects, which included portraits of all individuals, irrespective of caste, creed, nationality or religious leanings. He effectively used his brush as a medium to unite and integrate all of humanity, without prejudice.

"It is this aspect of all-encompassing universalism which he achieved through his art, that this Foundation aims to spread, uphold and establish, thereby keeping the spirit of Ravi Varma alive."

Gitanjali Maini

Gitanjali Maini

Managing Trustee & CEO

For Gitanjali Maini, the love of art has been an all-consuming passion for as long as she can remember. Back in 2003, Gitanjali, with a keen eye and keener sense of perception, could see the beginnings of a dramatic change in the art industry in India.

She set up gallery g on Lavelle Road, curating established masters' works, heritage art by Raja Ravi Varma, and his contemporaries. One of the things Gitanjali always wanted to do was promote an organisation for preservation of artistic heritage. She has been a great admirer of Varma’s work. In 2016, the time seemed right, the stars aligned; the substantial interest in the art world and the general public about Raja Ravi Varma needed to be addressed and the family asked Gitanjali to establish and head a foundation to preserve his legacy.

"It was becoming clear to me, as someone who has been a gallerist and curator for over a decade and a half, that a foundation established with a mission such as this could significantly contribute to the arts community and help advance its ideals. I am privileged to be a part of the Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation and so to be able to promote his legacy as India’s foremost artist. I believe the art in our country is on the threshold of a dynamic new phase."

Jay Varma

Jay Varma


Jay Varma is a gifted artist who combines a dramatic sense of colour with extraordinary detail. His artistic style incorporates impeccable realism with unique and subtly rendered application of bold and brilliant colours with particular attention to light. A self-taught artist, Jay Varma continues a rich history of artistic tradition, skill and reputation through several generations of his family.

His ancestor, Raja Ravi Varma, is one of the most highly regarded artists in India. His mother Rukmini Varma's work adorns private collections around the world. Jay has studied in the United States at Studio Incamminati and Germany where he developed techniques using graphite on paper and charcoal on canvas.

"It is my ardent desire that this Foundation perpetuate the accomplishments, both artistic and cultural, of one of India’s icons of art, while maintaining the highest standards of excellence and integrity. I look forward to assiduously participating in activities concerning the arts and charitable undertakings," expresses Varma.

About Raja Ravi Varma

The life and works of one of India's most prolific artists.

Raja Ravi Varma was a painter par excellence whose works not only put India on the map but also placed him on the pedestal with other great artists. Born 29 April, 1848 at Kilimanoor in the erstwhile State of Travancore, Ravi Varma’s paintings of the Royals, illustrious personalities and contemporary figures were widely sought-after and greatly admired.

An eye for detail, splendid use of colours and rich texture gave his paintings a classy, exquisite look, the reason why his works are priceless even to this day.

His realistic portrayals and interpretations of religious and mythological figures that adorn the households today, captivated and fascinated the country as well as an international audience.

Ravi Varma’s works transcended painting; he was also a poet, scholar and a visionary far beyond his times. His work also helped focus attention on his talented peers and paved the way for a succession of artistes.

Ravi Varma’s intention was to take art to the common man and not to limit it just to a privileged few. By establishing a press to make reproductions of his works, Ravi Varma ensured a strong foundation of admiration and respect from all.

Passing away on 2nd October 1906 at the age of 58, Ravi Varma’s legacy continues to live and thrive through his works and the Foundation.

His Influence

Over the years many of us have forgotten how Raja Ravi Varma has influenced our lives in subtle, yet defining ways. His visual images of gods and goddesses which attained celestial reverence has impacted almost all walks of life. These can be related to his influence on Indian comic books, temple architecture, jewellery, textiles and ceramics to name a few.


Raja Ravi Varma's works are catalogued here as Paintings (Oils), Portraits (Oils) and Works from the Raja Ravi Varma Press and others across India. His vision helped forge a new identity and stature for Indian art by fusing Indian tradition and classical European technique. The list is exhaustive and hence we showcase a few of his significant works.

Works from the Ravi Varma Press and others
Yashoda Krishna
The Coquette
Hanuman's Discourse
Reclining Nair Lady
Radha and Krishna
Diwan Sir Thanjavur Madhava Rao
Ahalya Indravalokan
Maharashtrian Lady
Ikkavu Tampuran
Raja Raja Varma
Pradhan Rai Panna Lal Mehta
Bombay Singer
Dhruva Narayan
Matriarch of Haripad Aristocracy
Rani Bharani Nal Mahaprabha Amma Tampuran
Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Tampuran
Lady with a Mirror
The Reverie
Krishna Phugadi
Seth Lakshmandas
Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Tampuran
H H Janaki Subbamma Bayi Sahib, Rani of Pudukkottai
Ram, Lakshman & Sita
Maharani Lakshmi Bayi
Ram Pattabishekam
Shesha Sayi
Mohini (Temptress)
Lady playing the Veena
Shri Sheshanarayana
Shri Shiva Panchayatan
Sri Krishna Mathura Gaman
Ram Mandal
Yashoda and Krishna
Shakuntala’s Impending Calamity
Vanvasi Ram

Want to see more?

To view the entire collection, exhibits and stories.


Ram Sagar darp haran - A S Desai

A brief calendar of events & exhibitions scheduled for the near future.

Since inception in 2015, the Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation has successfully conducted and executed several exhibitions, talks, panel discussions and even made a short film on Raja Ravi Varma's birth place, in its effort to preserve his legacy - both artistic and otherwise.

Some of our most popular events have been:

  • Kerala & Guercino with Prof Partha Mitter - He spoke eloquently comparing how 19th Century Kerala artwork pivoted away from its traditions towards a more universal, accessible and realistic style of painting. He explained how Western art of the Renaissance, as exemplified by the work of the Italian Baroque painter Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, also known as Guercino, influenced the art of Kerala three centuries later. 19th Century Kerala art was thus direct, relevant and emotional in a way viewers of the era could respond to.
  • Ravi Varma & His Contemporaries - Historian and conservation specialist Rupika Chawla was in conversation with author Manu S Pillai on the influence of the great master on a generation of contemporary artists like Sekhara Warrier, Mukundan Tampi, Neelakanta Pillai and others. The Foundational also worked with a group of private collectors displaying 11 original oil paintings for the day at the Kerala Museum, Kochi.
  • Raja Ravi Varma: His Mythological Perspectives - Devadutt Pattanaik kept the audience engrossed, dwelling on the huge role that Ravi Varma played in bringing the gods and goddesses and mythological characters closer to the common man during his lifetime, by way of his art. Pattanaik explained the mythological essence in some of Ravi Varma’s works like Dhruva Narayan, Ambika, Shankar to name a few.

The chronological detailed listing of the events can be found in the link below:

Foundation Events

These events, all planned and curated by the Foundation, shed light on the artist's impact on mythology, music, jewellery and textiles among others.


The Foundation is grateful to the media for constantly supporting us in all our endeavours. Event specific press coverage are listed in their respective section under foundation events. Highlighted here are overall news related to The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation.

A Legacy continues

Bangalore Mirror

On the 172nd birthday of Ra ja Ravi Varma, The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation based in the city releases a book by Manu Pillai and a film on the life and work of the artist

On the 172nd birthday of Raja Ravi Varma, The Ra ja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation based in the city releases a book by Manu Pillai and a film on the life and work of the artist. While the world selfisolates and tries to make sense of the Covid-19 pandemic, small windows of hope open now and then to assure us that all will be well. Incidentally and particularly relevant to today’s pandemic, is the story that legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma had to sell his Ghatkopar press in 1901 in Mumbai, after the plague devastated the business. [...]

A Rich Embellishment

Deccan Herald

Olaf Van Cleef

Heavenly Bodies’, an exclusive show of 4 of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings, was recently held by Gallery G in association with The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation. [...]

Patrons & Friends

Principal Patron

Our Patrons

Maharaja of Mysore - Ravi Varma

Be a Patron

We welcome your partnership with us in this exciting mission to preserve and uphold the artistic legacy of Raja Ravi Varma. We offer a tiered sponsorship structure, in keeping with Raja Ravi Varma’s inclusive spirit, designed so that you can participate according to your own cultural objectives and budget. All contributions are exempted under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act 1961.

Sponsorship Categories

These are:

  • Friends of the Foundation.
  • Patrons:
    • Silver
    • Gold
    • Platinum
  • Event Sponsor.

We will ensure effective exposure for your branding collaterals.

Select Synergies

We welcome your contributions and referrals of other artworks, other mediums of expression in line with our mission. We are in discussion with select global brands in this regard and seek an association and opportunity with any potential synergies.

Given his stature, it can be expected that The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation will generate much attention and participation. With your support, we will establish the Foundation as one of India’s most dynamic cultural entities that will promote, mentor and support allied creative endeavours so that Raja Ravi Varma’s heritage will flourish.

Would you like to be a Patron?

Please contact us for more information.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Get in touch


Gitanjali Maini, Managing Trustee & CEO

General Enquiry

Events Registration

Authentic dealers of Ravi Varma's Works and Merchandise


+91 80 2224 0102