Who Was Nicholas Roerich?
Born in 1874, in St Petersburg, Nicholas Roerich was one of those rare people whose good at everything. He spent his early twenties training to be both an artist and a lawyer, simultaneously. He then went on to run an art school, design stage costumes, pioneer a new mystic philosophy, decorate churches and advocate political policies on the world stage.
His life was colourful and eccentric. Here are a few of its highlights:
1) Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring
He designed the outfits for Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring, a performance so outrageous it reportedly caused a riot on opening night at the Theatre Des Champs Elysées.
2) A Russian (un)Orthodox Church
His architectural works were equally controversial. His designs for the Talashinko Church being so radical that the building was denied consecration..
3) A Russian Yogi
He invented his own school of mysticism, Agni Yoga. This stressed the importance of judging actions by their cosmic significance and not just their impact on mankind.
4) The Dalai Lama
He claimed to be the fifth incarnation of the Dalai Lama, going so far as to say he was destined to unite much of Asia under a common religion.
5) Explorer And Missionary
This belief motivated him to embark on an expedition from North India to Moscow, across Siberia and to Tibet, so that he could spread his message.
He once saw a real life UFO. At least, that's what he claimed. When he reached Tibet he reportedly witnessed a strange, metallic oval hovering in the sky.
He was nominated for the Nobel peace Prize not just once, but three times.
8) Foreign Diplomate
He created the Roerich Pact, an inter-American treaty protecting cultural artefacts from being used/destroyed for military means.
Nicholas Roerich The Painter
Despite his busy life, Roerich also found the time to paint.
In fact, as an artist he was prolific, creating over 4,000 works. Many of these depict scenes of the Himalayas, where he spent a year in exile during the 1920s.
His style is often described as hypnotic and was heavily influenced by Russian symbolism.
The Nicholas Roerich Museum
The Nicholas Roerich Museum features around 200 of his works. The majority of these are oil paintings, but sketches and archival material are also featured within the collection.
The Museum is located in a brownstone building at 319, W 109th St on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Fancy reading more on the great mystic painters of the past? Check our article on William Blake's House.
Interested in finding more places like these? Try one of our NYC Scavenger Hunts - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of NYC.