Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerih
27.09.1874 Saint-Petersburg - 13.12.1947 Naggar, India
Art history: Symbolism
Canvases of Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerih [55 canvases]
Biography of Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerih
The name of the Russian painter Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich (1874-1947) occupies an honorable place in the history of our own coutry's and the world culture of the XX century. The range of N.K.Roerich's activities is extraordinarily wide. A painter, archaeologist, ethnographer, lawyer, geographer, poet, historian, philosopher, scientist, traveller, fighter for peace, defender of cultural values of all nations and, invariably, Man, who has devoted his whole self to the ideal of common good. As an artist, N.K.Roerich has created more than 7000 works, that has dispersed all over the world, adding to the glory of Russian culture. He worked in the shpere of monumental and applied arts and has become famous as an author of scenographies and drawings, and left the whole series of sketches for furniture, costumes, embroideries. And all this diverse heritage is hall-marked with a great original talent. Nikolai Konstantinovich was formed as an artist and a public cultural worker of the Russia of the end of the XIX - beginning of the XX centuries. After graduation from Sankt Peterburg University and the Academy of Arts he yearned to know the centuries-old culture of Russia. With this purpose in 1903-1904, the young artist went round more than 40 towns and historical places of the country. The knowledge of history, numerous archaeological excavations, "going through Russian olden times" helped N.K.Roerich to represent in a new way in his creative work the image of his Mother nature and spiritual stages of Russian nation's thousand-year history's development. His pictures "The Herald(1897)","The Overseas Guests"(1901), "City is growing"(1902), "Rostov the Great"(1903), "Three Joys"(1916)- that is Roerich's Russia. It is recognized at once as also is the Russia of V.Surikov, A.Ryabushkin, M.Nesterov. It is the country of the glorious past and great future. Delving deeply into studies of Russian history, N.K.Roerich always strived to erect the "steps for the Days to come" of "the aged miraculous stones". N.K.Roerich's world-outlook is unique, for it is founded upon the knowledge of fundamental laws of Existence. He was convinced that by increasing the level of masses' spiritual culture one can transform life on Earth and defeat ignorance, vulgarity, exploitation, wars. "Where there is culture - the artist wrote - there is peace there. There is a heroic deed, there is the right solution of the most complicated social problems. While culture is only a luxury, only the Christmas pudding, it would not yet improve life. Culture should come into the closest everyday life, in both a cabin and a palace". Being convinced of the transforming power of culture, N.K.Roerich devoted himself not only to artistic, but also to educational activities. The so-called the "Roerich Pact", providing for the protection of culture memorials of all humanity played an important role in strengthening friendship and cooperation between the nations. "We need the Pact for culture memorials protection not only as an official body, but also as an educational law, which will, from the very first school days, bring up the younger generation with the noble ideas of preserving culture values of the universe", the master wrote. N.K.Roerich's idea has won an international recognition. Albert Einstein, Romain Roland, Bernard Shaw, Thomas Mann, Herbert Wells, J.Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore and many other outstanding scientists and artists of various countries backed up the "Roerich Pact" and his "Standard of Peace". On the base of the Pact the Act of International Convention on the protection of cultural values in wartime was signed in the Hague in 1954 and then ratified by many countries including Soviet Union. N.K.Roerich, like Alexander Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, served the Russian ideal of "worldwideness". From his loved Russia the artist went to the common to all mankind comprehension of the present day reality on the planet. For 42 years he worked in Russia. Ten years he travelled round European countries and the USA, more than 20 years he has spent in the East. Especially attractive for him was India. In his studies of the old Russian art he would find the roots common to both Slavonic and Indian cultures. Of interest was for Roerich the question of peoples' migration and interrelation of cultures. As early as 1913 the painter had worked out a plan of journey round the East, but World War I frustrated the plans. His cherished dream came true in 1923 only. Nicolai Konstantinovich with his wife Yelena Ivanovna (a philosopher and writer), sons Yuri Nokolayevich (a well-known orientalist), and Svyatoslav Nikolayevich (a painter, public figure, art critic, pedagogue) left for India. There began an unparalleled in the history of world's art journey of a Russian artist round Central Asia. Extremely valuable collections of ancient manuscripts, works of art, rare data on archaeology, botanics, geology, medicine, philosophy, ethics, linguistics, etc. were gathered during his three research expeditions. In 1928, N.K.Roerich founded the Himalayan Research Institute "Urusvati", which means "Morning Star Light". At the end of the thirties N.K. Roerich had to return to the USSR, but the war prevented him from doing this. In 1947, Nickolay Konstantinovich was going to return to his Motherland: "I would like to be there as soon as possible and to contribute my experience and knowledge to the cause of Russia." Packed are his books, pictures. But death cut short the dream of many years.
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