A new illustrated book, which brings alive the life and times of celebrated Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma, will hit the stands in April, announced publishing house Westland recently.
The children's book, titled Prince with a Paintbrush: The Story of Raja Ravi Varma, has been written by author-poet Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan. Published under Westland's 'Red Panda' imprint, it aims to inspire young readers to learn about the famed artist and how he left a mark on the art world.
When other children were busy playing hopscotch with friends, seven-year-old Ravi Varma—born on April 29, 1848, in a village in Kerala—was painting on the walls of his house. His love for painting, frowned upon by his elders, was nurtured by his uncle Raja Raja Varma, who took him to the court of the Maharaja of Travancore to study and practise art.
"The idea of a series on Indian artists had been percolating in my mind for a while and I was writing poems inspired by Raja Ravi Varma’s art. As I saw it, here was a famous 19th century Indian painter who blended European aesthetics with Indian images and connected the world more than a century ago, and yet so few children seemed to know him," said Srinivasan, who has earlier authored children books like Indi-Alphabet and How Many Lines in a Limerick?.
Varma, known as the 'father of modern Indian art', also established the first lithographic press in India, which created prints of his mythology-inspired paintings—in particular scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is widely seen as the first big step towards making art affordable for masses.
"We are very excited to be working with Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan. Shobha is a fresh new voice in the children's books world and has the promise to break boundaries and create bestsellers. We can't wait to bring Prince with a Paintbrush: The Story of Raja Ravi Varma to the world," said Vidhi Bhargava, publisher, Red Panda. "This wonderful book doubles up as a picture biography and an introduction to art appreciation for little ones," she added.