About Foundation

kilimanoor palace

The Foundation

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.

The Foundation is the brainchild of his great great granddaughter Princess Bharani Thirunal Rukmini Bayi Thampuran of Travancore State, Gitanjali Maini, art connoisseur, promoter and curator, Ganesh V Shivaswamy, reputed art collector and eminent lawyer and Jay Varma an artist extraordinaire who is carrying on the rich legacy of academic art.

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 in Europe and elsewhere for masters such as Rembrandt and Picasso.

The Foundation is firmly rooted in three principles that governed Varma's life:

    1. 1. To Educate
    2. 2. To Appreciate
    3. 3. To Preserve

Our Objectives

Briefly, these are to:

1. Collect and preserve, catalogue, authenticate and document his paintings, drawings and lithographs;

2. Create a library pertaining to art in general and his legacy in particular;

3. Grant scholarships and foster research into his work and life as well those of his artistic contemporaries and later artists;

4. Promote his legacy and exponents of his style, approach and sensibility;

5. Scientifically authenticate his original and lithographic works.

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


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 - the lithograph of his Viswaroopa which occupies a central place in her home is testimony to the fact. 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."

Ganesh V Shivaswamy

Ganesh V Shivaswamy

Honorary Secretary

Ganesh V Shivaswamy is a third generation lawyer by profession and a passionate collector of art. By his own admission, his happiness stems more in the fact that he has attempted to catalogue the works of several artists, rather than just collecting art. His impressive collection, most of which are mythological in nature, include rare lithographs - 127 out of 134 to be precise - by Raja Ravi Varma.

"I created the first free online catalogue of the lithographs of Raja Ravi Varma. It can be viewed at https://sites.google.com/site/ravivarmalithos/. I have also lent my collection for academic research.” Eminent scholars like Dr. Karline McLain, author of the book Immortal Comics of India was kind enough to credit Shivaswamy for lending some art from his collection for her research."

"Creativity, innovation and expression comes but naturally to the divine. However, it takes a great effort for humanity to be creative. While environmentalists preserve the former, it is even more important for us, as a human race to recognise and preserve the latter. The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation has been created to preserve the artistic legacy of an artist which is one of the most unique Indian art forms."

"As a collector, I find the activities of the Foundation the need for the hour. We, as human beings need to recognise and appreciate the achievement of our exemplary artists," says Shivaswamy.

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 (1848-1906) was an Indian artist hailing from Kilimanoor in the present state of Kerala. In a brief lifespan, Varma’s output was prolific and richly textured. His realistically-detailed portrayals of contemporary figures and interpretations of religious and mythological figures enlightened and fascinated an international audience as much as they did his countrymen.

His work also helped focus attention on his talented peers and paved the way for many well-thought-of successors.

He was visionary in other ways as well: he made art more accessible, by printing his paintings in serial lithographs and his technique and approaches built a bridge of mutual respect and understanding between India and the West.

His Influence

Many of us have forgotten how Raja Ravi Varma has influenced our lives in subtle yet true ways. These are also clearly relatable to the visual form coigned by Raja Ravi Varma. His influence with the Indian comic books, ceramics, the common postcard, temple architecture, textiles, jewelry, the craft form of embellishment are all going to be explored through informed lectures and exhibitions conducted by the foundation.

View lithos


Raja Ravi Varma's works are catalogued as Paintings, Lithographs and Drawings. His vision helped forged 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.

Yashoda Krishna
Ganga Vatran
Shakuntala Sakhi
Hamsa Damayanthi
Dushyanta Shakuntala
Kansa Vadh
Seetha Swayamvar
Kichak Sairandhri
Rama in exile
Madhalsathruth Dhwaj
Tara Devi

Like Our Works?

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


Ram Sagar darp haran - A S Desai

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

We begun with a carefully planned calendar of exhibitions of Raja Ravi Varma’s and others’ work. We have scheduled talks and panel discussions on related topics by leading experts in their fields who include:

  • Rupika Chawla, author of the definitive work on Varma;
  • Olaf Van Cleef, scion of the jewelry house, whose craft of embellishment promises to extrapolate the Varma vision in a new way.
  • Karline McLain on Varma’s influence on Amar Chitra Katha, India’s premier graphic novel imprint.

These apart, other events will shed light on his impact on sculpture and ceramics, jewelry, textiles and investment. Raja Ravi Varma as an Investment will feature a panel of investors, collectors and auctioneers.

This comprehensive calendar has been drawn up by Foundation Honorary Secretary Ganesh Shivaswamy and more events are scheduled for the years ahead. The catalogue raisonné is scheduled for 2020.

View Proposed Calendar   View Foundation Events


Highlighted news of The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation. For all the news, click here.

Reliving the glory of Raja Ravi Varma

Panaroma, Navhind Times

The Bengaluru-based Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation recently conducted an illustrative lecture on Raja Ravi Varma (RRV) in Goa

The Bengaluru-based Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation recently conducted an illustrative lecture on Raja Ravi Varma (RRV) in Goa. This Foundation is working relentlessly to promote and preserve works of the artist, so also that of his contemporaries. NT NETWORK speaks to the chairperson of the Foundation, Bharani Thirunal [...]

Resurrecting the Rajah of High Kitsch

The New Indian Express

Ganesh V Shivaswamy and Gitanjali Maini of Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation in Bengaluru | Pushkar V

When 13-year-old Ganesh V Shivaswamy, already an art lover, collector and amateur painter by then, walked into the house of the great great granddaughter of artist Raja Ravi Varma to authenticate a painting attributed to the eminent painter, little did he know that this new acquaintance would eventually lead him to the mission of a lifetime—the Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation. [...]

The Master comes alive

The Bangalore Mirror

Sudhanya Prabhavati

A trust to preserve the legacy of Raja Ravi Varma will hold exhibitions of the prolific artists' works. The reclusive artist, Rukmini Varma (75) is finally getting to see her dream materialise. As the great great granddaughter of the eminent artist and royalty, Raja Ravi Varma, she had wanted to create a foundation that would preserve his extraordinary legacy. [...]

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Patrons & Friends

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, CEO

Ganesh Shivaswamy, Hon. Secretary

General Enquiry

Events Registration

Authentic dealers of Ravi Varma's Works and Merchandise


+91 80 2224 0102