Nicholas Roerich Museum

Nicholas Roerich Museum The mission of the Nicholas Roerich Museum is to make available to the public the full range of Roerich’s accomplishments.
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Excerpt from the book “Adamant” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.The image...
05/31/2020

Excerpt from the book “Adamant” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “Karakirghizes,” painted by Roerich in 1932.

In Roerich’s “Himalayas,” (1933-34) are some of the many album leaf sketches Roerich made of mountain peaks emerging fro...
05/30/2020

In Roerich’s “Himalayas,” (1933-34) are some of the many album leaf sketches Roerich made of mountain peaks emerging from mist. For Roerich, snowy peaks were sacred because they were separate from the worldly realm below. He was fascinated by the myths and legends that surrounded the mountains he visited on his travels. The pristine snow on those peaks, unreachable for most people, was part of those myths, giving the mountains the sublime quality Roerich sought to capture on his canvases. Roerich’s sketches give us a glimpse into how he sought to understand the shapes and outlines of the mountains he saw.

You can see this and other album leaf sketches on our website, roerich.org.

On this day, May 29th, in 1913, the ballet 'The Rite of Spring’ premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. Th...
05/29/2020

On this day, May 29th, in 1913, the ballet 'The Rite of Spring’ premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. The music, composed by Igor Stravinsky, caused a scandal because of its dissonance and deliberately harsh sounds. Nijinsky’s choreography had stamping movements and poses that challenged the upward grace of classical dance.

Roerich had developed the set designs and costumes in close collaboration with Stravinsky. During this process, shock value was never the primary concern. Roerich writes that the “constructive striving of spirit, this joy before the beautiful laws of nature and heroic sacrifices, are certainly the essential feelings of ‘Le Sacre du Printemps.’” (“Heroica”) In his set designs and costumes, he tried to reflect this “ancient and panhuman” sprit by looking to Russian folk art for inspiration. By looking to the past, Roerich and Stravinsky strove to create an experience that was both modern and timeless.

Here you can see “Maidens,” one of the designs Roerich created for Massine’s production of ‘The Rite of Spring’ staged at La Scala in 1947.

If you’d like the read more from ‘Heroica,’ please go to our website, roerich.org. #roerich #roerichmuseum #museum #art #fineart #nycart

Roerich’s “White Stone” (1933) references the Tibetan legend of Erdeni Mori, the “jewel-bearing horse,” who descends fro...
05/28/2020

Roerich’s “White Stone” (1933) references the Tibetan legend of Erdeni Mori, the “jewel-bearing horse,” who descends from the mountains with a jewel on his saddle. This jewel is the Chintamani, the miraculous stone that is thought to be preordained to save the world at the appointed hour.

The white horse appears several times throughout Roerich’s work. He was fascinated by the rich history of the white horse in myths, legends and folklore across all cultures. From his writings, we know that he was aware of all of its incarnations, from the horse of St. George, to the steeds of the Germanic Valkyries, to the horse of Gesar Khan, the great hero of ancient Asia. He emphasizes that the white horse in folklore always belongs to the hero. However, he says, “sometimes the white horse brings alone the great message.” (‘Himavat’)

If you’d like the read more from ‘Himavat,’ please go to our website, roerich.org.

Excerpt from the book “Beautiful Unity” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.T...
05/22/2020

Excerpt from the book “Beautiful Unity” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “Path to Tibet," painted by Roerich in 1925.⠀

#roerich #quotes #motivationalquotes #inspirationalquotes #inspiration #books #authors #agniyoga

Roerich’s “Lake of Gennesaret” (1936) depicts the largest body of fresh water in Israel. The lake is also known as the S...
05/21/2020

Roerich’s “Lake of Gennesaret” (1936) depicts the largest body of fresh water in Israel. The lake is also known as the Sea of Galilee or the Sea of Tiberias and is where Jesus is said to have walked, preached, calmed the storm, and granted miraculous catches of fish.

Here, you can see how Roerich paints the calm of the water as a smooth, glassy surface. Jesus is standing in the lower right corner, next to a group of fisherman in the water, most likely referring to Matthew 4:19, 20 — “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him."

If you’d like the read more from ‘Altai-Himalaya,’ please go to our website, roerich.org.

Excerpt from the book “Realm of Light” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.Th...
05/20/2020

Excerpt from the book “Realm of Light” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “Lord of the Night,” painted by Roerich in 1918.

In Roerich’s “Ashram,” (1931) a single figure in a boat sails into a narrow crevice cut into rocks carved with elephant ...
05/19/2020

In Roerich’s “Ashram,” (1931) a single figure in a boat sails into a narrow crevice cut into rocks carved with elephant silhouettes. This painting is one of several in his “Ashrams” series. An ‘Ashram’ is a spiritual hermitage or monastery, and the Sanskrit root of the word meets to toil or strive towards a goal. Roerich depicts the physical journey into an ashram, but there is also the metaphoric meaning of an inner, spiritual journey.

In his writings, Roerich described ashrams as places of pilgrimage, where ideas came together and evolved. In “Himalayas-Abode of Light,” he says that “the ashram is nourished from many sources. Entirely unexpected wayfarers come to it, each bringing his own experience.”⠀
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If you’d like to read more from “Himalayas-Abode of Light” and “Heart of Asia,” please go to our website, roerich.org.

Roerich’s “Shambale Daik,” (1931) depicts an archer almost camouflaged against the mottled patchwork of rock. Roerich wr...
05/18/2020

Roerich’s “Shambale Daik,” (1931) depicts an archer almost camouflaged against the mottled patchwork of rock. Roerich writes about “the ancient art of archery” in “Himalayas—Abode of Light” and how the “hill men still know their noble art.” Roerich also compares the archer with the traveler, who is willing to exchange his life in the city for a life in the mountains. Like the archer, this traveler has a reverence and “exalted feeling” towards the beauty of nature. The traveler shares this feeling with the “bevy of archers who stand vigilant, ready to guard the beauty and treasures of Kanchenjunga.” In his resilience and wish to protect nature, Roerich embodied both the traveler and archer he described.

In this painting, the idea of an archer is also a symbolic one, as the archer is a messenger from Shambhala, delivering his message to the lamas in the monastery.

If you’d like to read more from “Himalayas-Abode of Light,” please go to our website, roerich.org.

Roerich painted “Drops of Life” in 1924, a productive year for him and arguably one of the main turning points in his ar...
05/17/2020

Roerich painted “Drops of Life” in 1924, a productive year for him and arguably one of the main turning points in his artistic career. He spent the first nine months of that year living in Darjeeling, India, while traveling and painting throughout the region.

During this time, he became increasingly fascinated by India’s spiritual traditions, which shaped his painting style and choice of subject matter. The figure here is reminiscent of those found on the Ajanta frescos, depicted on 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments in Maharashtra, India. The title echoes the Buddhist saying that the vessel fills with water drop by drop — like the mind fills with wisdom.

Excerpt from the book “Adamant” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.The image...
05/15/2020

Excerpt from the book “Adamant” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “Remember,” (His Country series) painted by Roerich in 1924.

Roerich’s “Stronghold of the Spirit” (1932) depicts three travelers making their way through the mountains towards a mon...
05/14/2020

Roerich’s “Stronghold of the Spirit” (1932) depicts three travelers making their way through the mountains towards a monastery situated on a steep cliff. In his travel diary “Altai-Himalaya,” Roerich mentions the idea of ‘strongholds’ several times, referring to the monasteries that he encountered during his travels. They were both ‘strongholds’ in a physical sense and in terms of preserving spiritual traditions.

This painting is the cover we chose for “Altai-Himalaya,” Roerich’s travel diary during his time in Central Asia. In 1923, he left New York for India and went on to wander through some of the most remote and often dangerous parts of Asia. “Altai-Himalaya” is the record of the trials and triumphs of his journey, during which he painted some of his most iconic mountain landscapes.
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If you’d like the read more from ‘Altai-Himalaya,’ please go to our website, roerich.org.

Excerpt from the book “The Invincible” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.Th...
05/13/2020

Excerpt from the book “The Invincible” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “The Command,” painted by Roerich in 1917.

Roerich’s “Snegurochka and Lel” depicts the costume design that Roerich created for the Chicago Opera Company’s 1922 pro...
05/12/2020

Roerich’s “Snegurochka and Lel” depicts the costume design that Roerich created for the Chicago Opera Company’s 1922 production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “Snegurochka,” or “The Snow Maiden.” The opera is based on a Russian fairy tale and involves interactions between mythical characters like Frost and Spring with half-mythical/half-real characters like the Snow Maiden and the shepherd Lel.

When reflecting on his experience working on the production, Roerich notes that the Company approached him to create costumes that were modern and yet used styles taken from traditional designs. He writes about how he was able to use ancient designs directly and how “historic ornaments had been realized in the most modern way.”

To read more from “Beautiful Unity,” where the quote above is from, please go to our website, roerich.org.

Roerich’s “Snow Guardians,” (1922) pictured here, depicts a snow-covered forest and rocks bathed in cold blue light. The...
05/11/2020

Roerich’s “Snow Guardians,” (1922) pictured here, depicts a snow-covered forest and rocks bathed in cold blue light. The rocks have a statue-like quality, as though they are the ‘guardians’ of this landscape. In this painting, as in many others, Roerich plays with the anthropomorphic quality of natural formations. One can almost make out a face in the rightmost rock.

This painting reflects what Roerich wrote about as he was traveling to Gilgit, a city in Kashmir: “Violet and purple rocks; and snow peaks, beautifully blue.” (“Altai-Himalaya”) The sky has a greenish tint, inverting the expectation that the forest should be green and the sky blue, which gives the whole scene an otherworldly quality.

If you’d like the read more from ‘Altai-Himalaya,’ go to our website, roerich.org.

To understand the significance of Roerich’s “Oirot, the Messenger of the White Burkhan” (1925), it’s useful to look to h...
05/10/2020

To understand the significance of Roerich’s “Oirot, the Messenger of the White Burkhan” (1925), it’s useful to look to his writings. In “Heart of Asia.” Roerich explains that the Oirots were a “Finno-Turki tribe” that lived in “Altai or, as it is now called, Oirotiya.” In “Shambhala,” Roerich describes one of the main legends associated with the Oirots: “the nomadic Oirots await the Coming of Buddha, the White Burkhan, they know that the Blessed Oirot is already traveling throughout the world, announcing the great Advent.” The Blessed Oirot is pictured here riding a white horse, while the figure in the center is one of the nomad Oirots waiting for him.

To read more from “Shambhala” and “Heart of Asia,” please go to our website, roerich.org.

Excerpt from the book “Vigil” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.The image d...
05/09/2020

Excerpt from the book “Vigil” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “Himalayas. Evening,” painted by Roerich in 1933.

Roerich’s “Chenrezi,” painted in 1932, depicts the bodhisattva of compassion carved into a mountain illuminated by the s...
05/08/2020

Roerich’s “Chenrezi,” painted in 1932, depicts the bodhisattva of compassion carved into a mountain illuminated by the sun. In his book “Shambhala,” Roerich points to where he came across an image of Cherenzi: “And then we spoke of That Place which lies to the north of Kailasa…The twilight fell and the whole room seemed enveloped in new significance. The image of Chenrezi, superbly embroidered upon the lustrous silk, which hung above the head of the Lama, seemed to glance down at us in a significant way.”

It’s interesting to see how Roerich chooses to depict the image of Cherenzi carved into rock instead of on silk, though the twilight falling and enveloping the scene in significance seems to still hold true here.⠀

If you’d like the read more from ‘Shambhala,’ please go to our website, roerich.org.

Excerpt from the book “The Invincible” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.Th...
05/07/2020

Excerpt from the book “The Invincible” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “Kanchenjunga,” painted by Roerich in 1936.

Yesterday we featured Roerich’s painting “Path to Kailas,” which depicts the journey towards the sacred mountain in the ...
05/06/2020

Yesterday we featured Roerich’s painting “Path to Kailas,” which depicts the journey towards the sacred mountain in the Himalayas. Roerich wrote about what he saw on this journey: “Before us is the road to Kailas. There rises one of the fifteen wonders described in Tibetan books: The Mount of the Bell!” Pictured here is an album leaf sketch called “Mount of the Bell,” (1932) done in tempera and pencil on paper. What is particularly interesting about this sketch is how Roerich seems to be getting to grips with the structure of the mountain and how all of the puzzle pieces of rock fit together.

If you’d like the read more from ‘Himalayas—Abode of Light,’ where the quote above is from, please go to our website, roerich.org.

“Path to Kailas” (1932) is one of many paintings in which Roerich depicts the journey to notable or sacred places. Kaila...
05/05/2020

“Path to Kailas” (1932) is one of many paintings in which Roerich depicts the journey to notable or sacred places. Kailas, or Kailash, is a high peak in the Himalayas. In ‘Himalayas—Abode of Light,’ Roerich recalls a conversation with a Lama, in which “we spoke of the mountain Kailas, of the hermits who even now live in the caves of this wondrous mountain, filling space with their evocative calls to righteousness.”

Roerich conveys the sense of being on a journey through the layered composition that gives us a sense of depth. The foreground, with the three figures and the carved rock, gives us an entry point into the painting. From there, we can see the vast expanse of mist and mountains, gradually receding into the distance.

If you’d like to read more from ‘Himalayas—Abode of Light,’ please go to our website, roerich.org.

“The Miracle,” (1923) pictured here, is part of Roerich’s ‘Messiah’ series and is a great example of how he is able to c...
05/03/2020

“The Miracle,” (1923) pictured here, is part of Roerich’s ‘Messiah’ series and is a great example of how he is able to combine symbolism, dramatic elements and landscape all in one painting.

Among the primeval terrain, devoid of any visible plant life, is a bridge that looks as if it’s a natural part of the rock. The human figures on the bottom left, which almost look like they are part of the landscape too, kneel before the aura of light coming from beyond the bridge. Roerich depicts the anticipation of the coming messiah, creating drama and narrative in a visual way.

Roerich used the Grand Canyon as inspiration for the landscape. He stayed in Santa Fe in the summer of 1921 and stopped at the Great Canyon for a day or two on his way to San Francisco.

Excerpt from the book “Beautiful Unity” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.T...
05/02/2020

Excerpt from the book “Beautiful Unity” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “Mount of Five Treasures (Two Worlds),” painted by Roerich in 1933.

Roerich’s “Path to Tibet” (1925) depicts Leh, the capital of Ladakh, a region in Northern Indian whose name literally me...
05/01/2020

Roerich’s “Path to Tibet” (1925) depicts Leh, the capital of Ladakh, a region in Northern Indian whose name literally means "land of high passes.” If you compare this painting with a photograph of the same spot, you can see that Roerich’s interpretation is an idealized one. The landscape was not as neat as Roerich would suggest. It is interesting to see what he chose to omit and stylize.

In his painting, Roerich blurs the boundaries between man-made structures and mountains. Leh, basked in golden light at the bottom of canvas, fades into the purple tones of the mountain range behind it. The jagged outline of rocks continues upwards, and, almost imperceptibly, morphs into the outline of a building.

If you’d like to see this and other paintings from our collection, please go to our website, roerich.org, where you can browse our online catalogue.

Excerpt from the book “Vigil” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.The image d...
04/30/2020

Excerpt from the book “Vigil” by Nicholas Roerich. ⠀
For the full text, please go to our website, roerich.org.

The image depicted is “The Command (Heroica Suite),” painted by Roerich in 1917.

After extensive travels throughout Central Asia, Roerich settled in the Kullu Valley, India with his family. He was draw...
04/29/2020

After extensive travels throughout Central Asia, Roerich settled in the Kullu Valley, India with his family. He was drawn to Kullu not only because it was nestled in the Himalayas, but also because it had a rich history that continued to inspire his work and writing.

In his book “Shambhala,” Roerich mentions Kulu having a hero protector called Narasimha, who “protects the rich harvests” and “fills the valley with fragrant flowers.” He writes about the ruins of the castle of Narasimha in Naggar, which is a town in Kulu Valley. Here, “above the image of Narasimha rises the white summit of Guru Guri Dhar.” Roerich’s painting of this summit is pictured here.

If you’d like to read more from “Shambhala,” please go to our website, roerich.org.

Roerich’s “Dangra-Yumtso,” (1932) pictured here, depicts one of the places he describes in his travel diaries. Roerich o...
04/28/2020

Roerich’s “Dangra-Yumtso,” (1932) pictured here, depicts one of the places he describes in his travel diaries. Roerich often noted unexpected discoveries during his explorations of the remote, mountainous regions of Central Asia—both things he saw himself and things he heard from locals.

While he was in Nagchu, a city in northern Tibet, Roerich notes that locals told him that “to the North of the Dangra-Yumtso lake, among the open stony uplands, some sixteen thousand feet high, there is situated a fertile valley yielding regular crops.” (Heart of Asia) Here you can see those stony uplands in the foreground and the lake in the middle that almost blends into the mountains.

If you’d like to read more from “Heart of Asia,” please go to our website, roerich.org.

While Roerich was a student in Paris at the turn of the century, he studied with the French Symbolist painter Pierre Puv...
04/26/2020

While Roerich was a student in Paris at the turn of the century, he studied with the French Symbolist painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Roerich was particularly influenced by Puvis de Chavannes’ decorative aesthetic, which focused on emotion and imagination rather than realism in both style and subject matter.

If you compare Roerich’s “Song of the Morning” (1920) with Puvis de Chavannes’ “Fantasy” (1866, top right), you can definitely see de Chavannes’s influence in the compressed composition and elegance and fluidity of the gestures.

On the bottom right, you can see the Indian miniature Roerich used as more direct inspiration for “Song of the Morning” called “Naika and the Deer” (1750-1775).

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