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IMCA Auction #269/ Pundole's Mumbai/ 1 February 2012 (Lot 12)
Wednesday 1 February 2012 • 7:30 pm
Jamshed Bhabha Theatre
₹800,000 - ₹1,200,000
Indian Art Including Miniatures from the Estate of the Late Dr. Jamshed J. Bhabha
NICHOLAS ROERICH (1874 - 1947)
Property of a Lady REGISTERED ANTIQUITY - NON-EXPORTABLE ITEM (Please refer to the Terms and Conditions of Sale at the back of the catalogue)
Opaque pigment on card
12 x 18 in. (30.4 x 45.6 cm.)
Late 1930's or early 1940's
Signed with artist's monogram lower left and inscribed 'N.Roerich-N35 Himalayas' on backing paper
Gifted by the artist to Ruhaina Mohamedi Hydari, the daughter-in-law of Sir Akbar Hydari the Diwan of Hyderabad.
The Roerichs landed in Bombay in December 1923, and began a tour of India. At the end of the month, they were in Sikkim in the southern Himalayas from where they initiated a journey of exploration that would take them into Chinese Turkestan, Altai, Mongolia and Tibet. It was an expedition into unchartered regions where they planned to study the religions, languages, customs, and culture of the inhabitants. Nicholas Roerich wrote about this first Central Asiatic Expedition in his book Heart of Asia, and he creates for the reader a vivid account of the wonder of the land and its people. The trek resulted in a few hundred paintings and sketches of the region.
In his famous painting The Path, the figure of Christ leads the way along a tortuous path through crags and peaks of the Himalayas. The mountains become a metaphor for the hazardous obstacles confronting the spiritual journeyer. Eastern religious figures and concepts appear in the paintings, important among these being the images of the Lord Maitreya Rigden Jyepo of Mongolia and the White Burkhan of Altai all of whom are described in legends that link them with the Ruler of Shambhala, who is "destined to appear on earth for the final destruction of the wicked, the renovation of creation and the restoration of purity" (quoted from The Theosophical Glossary, by H. P. Blavatsky).
At the end of their major expedition in 1928, the family settled in the Kullu Valley in the Himalayan foothills, with a magnificent view of the valley and the surrounding mountains. Here they established their home and the headquarters of the Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute. The current work is likely to have been painted towards the end of his career between 1936 and his death in 1947. It bears many similarities in style and format to other works from the 1936 Himalaya series that include several small format temperas on card such as Mountain Pass, Western Himalayas and Nanda Devi (see the Nicholas Roerich Museum Collection). Roerich died in Kullu on December 13, 1947. His body was cremated and his ashes were buried on a slope facing the mountains he loved.