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D. Medvedeva

The museum of N.K. Roerich

I am fond of travelling, visiting new places, being in nature`s lap or in museums. But even more I adore writing about that. Now I would like to narrate about the N.K. Roerich`s Museum which is worth being enrolled in the list of my favourites.

The man of art was born in 1874, October 9-th in St. Petersburg. His mother came from the merchant`s family; father was a jurist. After Nicolas graduated from the Karl May`s Gymnasium, he entered two institutes at once. One of them was chosen by his father, the department of jurisprudence; the second choice complied with the Nicolas` passion for art - the Academy of Art in St Peterburg (1893).

In 1900 he called on the Prince Putyatin in Bologoye and got acquainted with Elena. A year after they got married. Later on two sons were born - George (1902) and Svyatoslav (1904). The first one became a prominent orientalist and scholar, but the second took his father`s path.

Nicolas Roerich was a sophisticated, philosophic man and religion took a lot of place in his soul. This is not difficult to understand finding yourself in the entrance hall. On the wall mosaics of icons can be seen, accomplished by Volkova. It produces an impression as if you were in a church. Quiet and still atmosphere contributes to this feeling and serves as a helping hand to the perception of the space.

In the so called St. Petersburg hall you can see the pictures which were painted in this city before the revolution. According to them I can suppose that Nicolas Roerich was the man of God who believed in kindness and humanity. Apart from the pictures two sphinx figures by Leonov are to be beheld here. When they stroke my eye, I understood that I had already seen something of this kind before. Later I noticed a note mentioning their originals placed along the Neva River. Only then did I remember the moment when I was scrutinizing them being in St. Peterburg with my classmates. These beautiful figures are difficult to overestimate in view of the fact that they are performed with maximal precision.

The third "Russian hall" impressed me with two pictures: "Terra Slava" and "The fairest city to the vexation of enemies". The first one depicts a monk (judging by his clothes), admiring the view of a monastery from the vintage point surrounded by a river and mountains. The sky is clear, without a single cloud. This wonderful blueness testifies the pureness of the surroundings and serves as a place for showing repentance for and receiving redemption.

The second picture reveals the enemies who encroached on our land and exposed it to fire. I cannot say what the artist kept in mind while painting it, but I suppose the work may present scenes from two historic periods - either from the tatar-mongols era of which mass disorder and ruthless slaughter are characteristic or from the war with Napoleon when the French set fire to the Russian capital.

On entering the next hall you feel as if in some kind of a fairy-tale. Three dimensional frames and illumination of the pictures contribute to this effect a lot. Moreover, the images themselves are full of mystery.

Not only can the works of Nicolas Roerich be beheld in the museum. The Russian painter Leonov together with his companion created a diorama based on three pictures by Roerich ("Agni Joga", "Song of Shambale" and "Burning of the darkness"). The work consists of three parts, but at the same time they form a single whole building up a complex. A woman standing on the rock is placed in the middle. She holds something precious for her in her hand as if trying to reach the gleaming Sun. On the left a man is sitting with a horn singing a song about Shambale. On the right several men are observing their rite of burning the darkness. All the figures seem to correlate with each other - the men trying to get rid of the darkness fulfilled their mission - the Sun appeared - the man with a horn tries to deliver the song to the woman on the rock.

Another wonder is an aggregate of portraits made of white gypsum. They belong to prominent individuals of our motherland. Among them are artists, scholars and scientists who left their trace in our history. Their faces are modeled with a high precision, which indicates mastery of the creator.

In the meanwhile I would like to go over to the hall dedicated to George, the senior Nicolas` son. Since his childhood he was an all-around boy imparted with the interest to the orient world, archeology, foreign languages. George was born in Novlorod province, finished the Karl May Gymnasium in St. Petersburg followed by Harvard University in the USA where he moved with his family in 1920.

India has become the second home for him, George spent 35 years there with no foreign citizenship, staying patriot till the end of his days. The scholar was also an amateur painter. Some of his works are presented in the hall. Those are mostly graphic pictures. Two of them with the same name "In the castle" especially appealed to me. Hatching aimed at showing shades vests the object with authenticity and contribute to perceive three-dimensional depiction. But the thing I liked more about the pictures is their suddenness of the subject. The first one, for example, poses a sketch with a man going through the doors. Nobody knows what happens next, where the man will prefer to go. In the second picture we can see only the walls of a castle. However, the depiction is not less mysterious.

Moreover, a number of pictures belonging to his father, Nikolas Konstantinovich, hang on the wall. Some of them were taken from George`s apartment. Among the exhibits are also his books and archeological equipment.

When Nicolas Roerich lived in India, he was a director of the local institute in the Kulu province. While being there he collected several figures and brought them to Russia. This trinity is sure to strike the eye. These Budda, Gugo Chohan, presenting its bravery and the man showing the way which is accessible only to a master of masters. In regard to my supposition they are all aimed at delivering a piece of wisdom to people looking at them. Roerichs` adornments and other precious items are also capable of producing a striking effect with their shick and gleaming.

After the completion of the expedition to Central Asia the explorations did not end. Later on Nicolas Roerich headed for Altai and Tibetan Highlands. In the next hall there is even a model of the map, where all the pitstops are marked by red points. Those not included in the route or left away are green.

What is curious, even a meteorite is among the exposition items. It is not big, consists primarily of iron. The landing took place in 1947, February 12-th in the Russian Primorski Territory. Moreover, in the so called Banner`s hall we can also see a big globe with the illuminated gleaming axis. It is devoted to the pact which was signed and sent to the UNESCO heritage network. It happened mostly due to the initiative of Nicolas Roerich. Remembering that day we should pay a tribute to him for the undertaken action.

The last hall is devoted to the junior son of Nicolas Roerich, who also became an artist. As I noticed, Svyatoslav painted mostly portraits, such as "Merchants with saffron", "Portrait of Asghari", "Christ with disciples", "Love the neighbour as thyself", "Katharina Campbell". All these pictures show the inspiration of the painter to his works, they are full of insight into people`s feelings and emotions presenting not senseless figures, but those full of energy. The picture "Love the neighbour as thyself" appealed to me more than others in view of the fact that it presents to our eyes human values.

But in the whole the creativity of Nicolas Roerich impressed me most. I would justify it by predominance of romantic views and picturesque landscapes. This mystifying motives on the background of nature seem to have stamped on my memory for a long time.

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