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Roerich, Nicholas Konstantin

(1874-1947). Eminent Russian artist, poet, theater designer and theosophist. Roerich was born in what was then called Petrograd on September 27, 1847, son of a distinguished barrister. He was expected to follow a career at law and was sent to University for this purpose. While at the University he decided to become an artist and his first painting, “The Messenger,” was purchased by the Moscow Museum and as a consequence of this success his parents sent him to Paris to continue his studies. In 1910 he married Helena Ivanovna Shaposhnikof and they had two sons. He joined the Theosophical Society (TS) in June 14, 1920, and painted a replica of his first painting “The Messenger” and himself brought it to Adyar in 1925. In 1920, Roerich and his wife Helena founded the Agni Yoga Society, which aimed to encourage individuals to undertake the practice of spirituality in daily life, and to bridge the gap between spirituality and science. A number of books were subsequently published which claim to come from, or be inspired by, a Mah€tma. The organizations continues up to this day with its main office in New York. Roerich was a prolific painter, completing over 4,000 works. There is a museum in New York devoted to his paintings. He died at Naggar, in the Punjab, India, in 1947. He was, for a time, connected with the Moscow Art Theater and the Diaghelev Ballet. In the latter capacity, he designed the stage sets for Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps in 1913. He traveled widely, including to Tibet where he painted a series of some 500 pictures of the Himalayas, and to New York City where the Roerich Museum was founded in his honor in 1913 and now houses a large collection of his paintings. A woven arras hanging on a wall at “Olcott,” the headquarters of the American Section of the TS, is patterned after one of his paintings of the Himalayas.


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