Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), considered “the greatest painter of India,” “the father of modern Indian art,” and a “prince among painters and a painter among princes.” Varma became renowned both for his portraiture and his paintings of Indian mythology. The painter's life and times played a major role in the shaping of the women he painted and controversy over the way he painted them. Varma's images have not just survived, but due to his vision of making them accessible to the common man, they have thrived over a century and influence movies, television, the world's most expensive sari, theatre and everyday calender art.
Amar Chitra Katha were the comics of my youth. Illustrated painstakingly with loving details, the immortal epics and stories of India going back over 5000 years were crystallized in these thin graphic novels. I will always remember Mirabai, for the romance between her and the god of love and war, Krishna. And Chanakya, aka Kautilya, author of the Arthashastra but better known to me for his Nitishastra - niti means political ethics. But other nitishastras include the famous Panchantra [pdf], the equivalent of Aesop's Fables for India, a textbook of 'niti' or the wise conduct of life.