Raja Ravi Varma was born in Kilimanoor Palace
as the son of Umamba Thampuratti and Neelakandan Bhattathiripad, in 1848. At the age of seven, he started drawing on the palace walls using charcoal. His uncle Raja Raja Varma noticed the talent of the child and gave him the preliminary lessons in painting. At the age of 14, Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja took him to Travancore Palace and taught him water painting under the guidance of the palace painter Rama Swamy Naidu. Three years later Theodor Jenson, a British painter, taught him oil painting. Raja Ravi Varma's paintings are mostly based on Hindu epics, myths and mythological characters. In 1873, he won the First Prize at the Madras Painting Exhibition and also won acclaim at Vienna Exhibition. Raja Ravi Varma also spent considerable time at the court of Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad of Baroda State (modern Vadodara
) in Gujarat
. A number of his works are displayed at the National Gallery of Modern Art
, Sree Chitra Art Gallery
and Maharaja Fatehsingh Rao Gaekwad Museum.