The Truth about Raja Ravi Varma’s ‘Lady with a Lamp’

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If you have ever been to Mysore, you must have been to the Jagmohan Palace Art Gallery. It is one of the best art galleries in Southern India. The Jaychama Rajendra art gallery at this palace has a painting titled ‘Lady with the lamp’, which is easily mistaken as a work of Raja Ravi Varma.

Lady with a Lamp

If you look at the painting, it has almost everything you might find in a beautiful Ravi Varma painting. The realistic approach, the sari clad south Indian woman, the level of detail etc. It has every element of the traditional touch that you are likely to come across in a Ravi Varma painting.

While the association of Ravi Varma to this painting seems legit, the fact remains, there is little chance Ravi Varma even saw this painting! In addition, this painting is not even titled ‘Lady with the lamp’! The real artist behind this glowing piece of work is S.L.Haldankar and the painting is titled ‘Glow of Hope’. To make things even more interesting, the woman in the painting is S.L.Haldankar’s daughter, Gita Haldankar! So, the question remains. From where did Ravi Varma come to the picture all of a sudden?

There could be many reasons for why this painting is attributed to Ravi Varma. Fist of all, as mentioned earlier, the realistic style and all the other features of the painting, which closely resembles that of Ravi Varma, could be a reason. Secondly, the woman in the painting was thought to be someone from Kerala and the lamp depicted in the picture is something similar to the ones found in Kerala. When you talk about Kerala and painting, there is only one name that connects the two; Ravi Varma.

Another fact is that, this painting is on the same floor, sharing space with many other Ravi Varma paintings that are kept on display at The Jaychama Rajendra art gallery. Consequently, there is a great chance that majority of art lovers got the idea that ‘Glow of Hope’ is also a Ravi Varma art. To add to all this wrong credit and misconceptions, the media has also played its part in making this painting a ‘Ravi Varma masterpiece’.

For example, an article that appeared in ‘The Hindu’, ‘Splash of vibrant hues’ , mentions about this painting and attributes it to the great Ravi Varma.

It says,

“So, what you get to see is an interpretation of Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings with a touch of innovation. Like in the case of the lady with a lamp portrait, she sports the costume of a Travancore woman.”

In truth, neither there is a ‘Lady with a lamp’, nor is she a ‘Travancore woman’!

Your Turn

Have you heard the story of this painting before? Did anyone you know mentioned this painting as Ravi Varma’s? Share your response via comments..

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22 Responses to “The Truth about Raja Ravi Varma’s ‘Lady with a Lamp’”

  1. Hello, I am looking for a print of this painting for a gift and cannot find one in the US. Do you maybe know where I could find one? Many thanks!

  2. I wanted to purchase this painting, lady with a lamp. I am staying I’m Mumbai. Pl inform if this is available on line purchase also. Pl reply to my mail. Thks

  3. Where I can purchase a art-print of this painting???

  4. Hi,

    I have a signed print of this S.L.Haldankar painitng. and the colours in my painting are more deep and beautiful. I knew it is a Haldnkar but always thought it is Lady with the lamp. Thanks for the correct information.

  5. really raja ravi varma is a very great person
    but our society are not recognizing him

  6. Hi,
    I make regular postings on my Face Book page for public view, mostly using quotations of famous thinkers. Today I was searching for this particular picture to accompany a quotation by Jarod Kinz. I stumbled upon your blog. Great many thanks for dispelling my illusion that this really was not by the great Raja Ravi Varma, despite visiting the art gallery in Mysore half a dozen times, I thought it was! I have put out your link along with the picture and the quote just a few minutes ago, which may dispel the illusion like me among my friends and others.

  7. Thanks for the information!

    I had visited this art gallery in Mysore and was impressed by this painting. The guide explained us about this painting and he was confidently telling that it was pained by Raja Ravi Varma.

    Also searched on internet, most of the searches says “It’s not Ravi Varma!”. I am surprised!
    And thanks again for the information.


  8. Hi Damodar and Sanjay,

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Warm Regards

  9. I wanted to purchase this painting, lady with a lamp. I am staying I’m Chennai. Pl inform if this is available on line purchase also. Pl reply to my mail. Thks

  10. S.L Haldankar is my great grand father. Thank you for telling and appreciating the truth.

  11. Hi Tanvi,

    Thanks for stopping by. Wish you a great day!


  12. Very sadly whatsaap is wrongly circulating da name of famous painting ,’Lady With Lamp’.In fact the real nd authentic painter is Sri H L HALDANKAR and the lady in the picture is his daughter Githa Haldankar.

    Ravi Verma is the legend no dispute at all.

  13. The print of this painting is available for purchase at Mysore Art gallery where the original painting is on display. We got the copy from there.

  14. I have seen the painting at the Art Gallery long back and had noticed that it was the work of some other artist and not by Ravi Varma. I used to correct people who mention it as a Ravi Varma painting.

  15. I have seen this painting or similar paintings at gynac hospitals. I didnt got it? Why?

  16. The picture you have used in this article is a replica. You can see the signature of the artist who attempted this replica.

  17. Lady doesnt look South Indian.She seems to be wearing Maharashtrian dress. Painting is by S. L. Haldankar and not Raja Ravi Varma.

    Ravi Varma’s paintings has most women in Maharashtrian nine yard saree. He has used famous Hindustani singer Anjanibai Malpekar. Varma’s famous painting Lady in the moonlight featured Anjanibai Malpekar.

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