Purchase, Gift of Mrs. William J. Calhoun and Bequest of Nina Bunshaft, by exchange, 2013
Not on view
Lakshmi standing on a lotus is perhaps the most well-known example of all of the early lithographs of Hindu gods. In part this is because of Ravi Varma’s fame and the fact that he produced such high quality images, but it is also a result of its long print run; much simplified versions of this print continued to be produced into the 1920s. Ravi Varma based this print on a series of oil painting he did for various patrons; one of these is currently on display in the Maharaja Fatesingh Museum, Vadodara. The painterly quality of the print attests to its origins as an oil painting, a medium that essentially comes into fashion in the late 19th century with Ravi Varma being one of its most successful exponents.
According to Mark Barron this print can be dated to 1894, the first year of Ravi Varma Press. He bases this on the stippling technique that uses the edge of a brush, the oversized format (larger than the standard 28 x 20 in. Ravi Varma Press prints), the uneven texture of the paper, and fact that it has little or no varnish. Also significant is the use of so many colors, each of which would have required a separate stone, and the choice of pastel color pallet, which has a very limited life span.
On the base are the initials A.S.D. for Anant Shivaji Desai, one of the two original distributors of Ravi Varma Press prints.