SARASWATI OLEOGRAPH – RAJA RAVI VARMA

SARASWATI OLEOGRAPH – RAJA RAVI VARMA

This beautiful Oleograph of Goddess Saraswati is of one of Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. It was Raja Ravi Varma who started painting Hindu deities with appropriate bodies, features and ornaments. This Oleograph has been embellished with fabric and zari as saree and crown. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of wisdom, knowledge and art. Saraswati along with Lakshmi and Parvati form the trinity of principal goddesses – Tridevi. As per popular Hindu iconography, Saraswati is depicted wearing a pure white saree sitting cross legged on a white lotus playing a musical instrument called the Veena. Peacock that is always shown by her side, is her mount.

Oleography or Chromolithography is a unique technique used for making colour prints. This particular technique evolved from Lithography – which is basically a method of printing using a stone.

The method of Oleography uses multiple stones - a separate stone for each colour and included printing one colour over another. It was widely used for commercial purposes and was the most popular method for colour printing till the end of the 19th century. Oleo in Latin means Oil. This technique used oil that gave the prints better quality. It is a chemical process based on rejection of oil by water. Depending on the number of colours present in the picture, skilled workers took months to complete a single Oleograph.  In the 19th century, Oleographs became so popular in the United States that the Era was named as ‘Chromo Civilisation’. They were widely used everywhere – children’s books, advertising art, posters, labels etc.

While Oleographs started losing their popularity by the end of the 19th century in the West, they started becoming popular in India. This can be completely attributed to India’s first modern artist, Raja Ravi Varma. To make Oleographs of his paintings in large number so as to make them accessible to the common people as well, he opened a press in Mumbai – The Ravi Varma Lithographic Press. The first picture printed at Ravi Varma’s press was the ‘The birth of Shakuntala’. This press produced a large number of Oleographs of Raja Ravi Varma’s most famous paintings, before being sold to his German printing technician.  

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SARASWATI OLEOGRAPH – RAJA RAVI VARMA

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SARASWATI OLEOGRAPH – RAJA RAVI VARMA

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