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Nicholas Roerich
Николай Рерих
N Roerich.jpg
Roerich c. 1940–1947
Born (1874-10-09)October 9, 1874
Died December 13, 1947(1947-12-13) (aged 73)
Nationality Russian
Occupation painter, archaeologist, costume and set designer for ballets, operas, and dramas
Spouse(s) Helena Roerich
Children George de Roerich,
Svetoslav Roerich
Подпись Николая Рериха-1932 г.jpg

Nikolai Konstantinovich Rerikh (Russian: Николай Константинович Рерих), better known as Nicholas Roerich ( October 9, 1874 – December 13, 1947), was a Russian painter, writer, archaeologist, theosophist, philosopher, and public figure.

During his life Roerich traveled extensively until his death in Naggar, India. Trained as an artist and a lawyer, his main interests were literature, philosophy, archaeology, and especially art. Roerich was a dedicated activist for the cause of preserving art and architecture during times of war. He was nominated several times to the longlist for the Nobel Peace Prize. The so-called Roerich Pact (for the protection of cultural objects) was signed into law by the United States and most other nations of the Pan-American Union in April 1935.

Life and career

Family Roerich
Roerich's family (Kullu valley, India)

Roerich was born in Saint Petersburg to a well-to-do Baltic German father and to a Russian mother. Raised in late-19th-century St. Petersburg, young Roerich enrolled simultaneously at St. Petersburg University and the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1893. He received the title of "artist" in 1897 and a degree in law the next year. He found early employment with the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, whose school he directed from 1906 to 1917. Despite early tensions with the group, he became a member of Sergei Diaghilev's "World of Art" society and was its president from 1910 to 1916.

Artistically, Roerich became known as his generation's most talented painter of Russia's ancient past, a topic that was compatible with his lifelong interest in archeology. He also succeeded as a stage designer by achieving his greatest fame as one of the designers for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. His best-known designs were for Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor (1909 and later productions), and costumes and set for The Rite of Spring (1913), composed by Igor Stravinsky.

N.Roerich by B.Kustodiev (1913)
Nicholas Roerich by Kustodiev. 1913

Along with Mikhail Vrubel and Mikhail Nesterov, Roerich is considered a major representative of Russian Symbolism in art.

Another of Roerich's artistic subjects was architecture. His acclaimed publication "Architectural Studies" (1904–1905), consisting of dozens of paintings he made of fortresses, monasteries, churches, and other monuments during two long trips through Russia, inspired his decades-long career as an activist on behalf of artistic and architectural preservation. He also designed religious art for places of worship throughout Russia and Ukraine, most notably the Queen of Heaven fresco for the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Car of Nicolas Roerich in his museum at Naggar

After the February Revolution of 1917 and the end of the czarist regime, Roerich was forced to leave the capital and reside in Karelia, the district bordering Finland. He had already quit the presidency of the World of Art society, and he now quit the directorship of the School of the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts. During early 1918, he, is wife Helena, and their two sons George and Svetoslav emigrated to Finland. After some months in Finland and Scandinavia, the Roerichs relocated to London, arriving in mid-1919.

In 1924, the Roerichs returned to the West and settled in New York City. They founded several institutions there: Cor Ardens ("Flaming Heart") and Corona Mundi ("Crown of the World"), both of which were meant to unite artists around the globe in the cause of civic activism; the Master Institute of United Arts, an art school with a versatile curriculum, and the eventual home of the first Nicholas Roerich Museum.

Later life

Nehru Gandhi Roerich
Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Nicholas Roerich, and Mohammad Yunus. (Roerich's estate, Kullu).

From 1925 to 1935 Roerich and his family went on several expeditions to Tibet and Manchuria. The expeditions were an artistic and scientific enterprise. The Roerichs explored parts of Inner Mongolia - the Gobi Desert, Ordos Desert, and Helan Mountains - and found almost 300 species of xerophytes, collected herbs, conducted archeological studies, and found antique manuscripts of great scientific importance.


Roerich died in Kullu on December 13, 1947.


Altai. Peaks and passes named in honor of the family Roerich
Altai. Peaks and passes named in honor of the Roerich family.
Minor planet 4426 Roerich
The minor planet 4426 Roerich in Solar System
Nicholas Roerich Museum, Moscow (2018-01-17) 50
Nicholas Roerich Museum in Moscow, 2018; there is also a Roerich museum in New York City

Roerich's paintings can be seen in several museums including the Roerich Department of the State Museum of Oriental Arts in Moscow; the Roerich Museum at the International Centre of the Roerichs in Moscow; the Russian State Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia; a collection in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow; a collection in the Art Museum in Novosibirsk, Russia; an important collection in the National Gallery for Foreign Art in Sofia, Bulgaria; a collection in the Art Museum in Nizhny Novgorod Russia; National Museum of Serbia; the Roerich Hall Estate in Naggar, India; the Sree Chitra Art Gallery, Thiruvananthapuram, India; in various art museums in India; and a selection featuring several of his larger works in The Latvian National Museum of Art.

Roerich was awarded Order of St. Sava. The minor planet 4426 Roerich in the Solar System was named in honor of Roerich. A crater on Mercury, near the south pole, is also named for Roerich.

In June 2013 during Russian Art Week in London, Roerich's Madonna Laboris sold at auction at Bonhams shop for £7,881,250, including the buyer's premium, making it the most valuable painting ever sold at a Russian art auction.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Nikolái Roerich para niños

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