Nicholas Roerich – great Russian artist
Nicholas Roerich was a great Russian artist, historian, archaeologist and ethnographer, poet, writer, art critic, traveler and a prominent public figure. He fought for peace and for protection of cultural treasures. Roerich’s ideas have had a significant influence on the formation and development of the New Age in Russia.
Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich was born on October 9, 1874 in St. Petersburg. His father, Konstantin Roerich, was a reputed lawyer and notary.
He was taught drawing by Mikhail Mtkeshin, then studied at the Faculty of Law in St. Petersburg University and at the Academy of Art. Arkhip Kuinji became Roerich’s mentor.
In the autumn of 1901, Roerich married Helena Shaposhnikova. She became his wife, friend, travelling companion, and inspirer. They had two sons – Yuri and Svyatoslav.
From 1902 to 1910 Nicholas was the member of The World of Art and then became its president.
Roerich designed sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
In 1918, Roerich and his family left Soviet Russia for Scandinavia, England, then the United States. In New York, Roerich and his wife, Helena, founded a spiritual movement: Agni Yoga, an offshoot of Theosophy.
In the summer of 1920-1923 Roerich travelled through America – Arizona, New Mexico, and California.
In 1923 Roerich visited India. From 1925 to 1928, he and his family completed a mammoth trek through Ladakh, Chinese Turkestan, the Altai Mountains, the Gobi Desert, and Tibet.
Roerich established a research facility in the Himalayan village of Nag- gar, India, and lobbied for the passage of an international treaty to protect art in times of war. This effort gained him two nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1934-1935, Roerich traveled to Manchuria and Mongolia.
Roerich died on December 13, 1947 in India.
He created more than 7000 paintings and drawings, and about 30 volumes of literary works, including two poems.
Roerich was a master of mountains. He was convinced that mountains helped a man to find courage and develop strength of spirit.