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RUSSIAN ART EVENING SALE
09 JUNE 2008 | 7:00 PM BST
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, USA
Estimate 200,000 — 300,000 GBP
LOT SOLD. 457,250 GBP
Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich
BIRDS OF THE MORNING (MESSENGERS OF THE MORN)
tempera on canvas
49.5 by 77cm., 19 1/2 by 30 1/4 in.
Roerich Museum, New York,1923-1935
Nettie and Louis Horch, USA
A gift from the above to the Riverside Museum, Rose Art Museum
Brandeis University Art Collection, Waltham, Massachusetts
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner
Stockholm, Gummesons Konsthall, Rörich Separatutställning, 10 November-30 November 1918, No. 41
Kunstdl. Henry Schou, Ovenlyssalen, Rörich, Maleriudstilling fra 10. Januar, No. 41
Helsinki, Salon Strindberg, Nicholas Roerich Konstutställning, 1919, No. 71
N.Roerich, List of Paintings 1917–1924, Nicholas Roerich Museum archive, No. 54.
Nicolas Roerich, Spells of Russia: Catalogue, The Goupil Gallery, London, 1920, No. 19
Nicolas Roerich, Spells of Russia: Catalogue, The Public Art Gallery, Worthing, 1920, No. 87
The Nicholas Roerich Exhibition, with introduction and catalogue of the Paintings by Christian Brinton. 1920-1921-1922. New York: Redfield-Kendrick-Odell Company, 1921, No. 12
Paintings by Nicholas Roerich: Complete List of the Works of Nicholas Roerich, arranged in chronological order, with the names of owners, in F.Grant et al., Roerich. Himalaya, New York: Brentano's Publishers, 1926, p. 196
Roerich Museum Catalogue. 8th ed. New York: Roerich Museum, 1930, No. 12
This painting, originally called Birds of the Morning but later given a more poetic title, Messengers of Morn, was painted in a small Finnish village, Yhinlahti, during the spring or early summer of 1917. In the midst of the dark days of the Russian Revolution and Roerich's own critical illness, it stands out as a symbol of hope and serenity during such turbulent times. The sense of depth created by the expansive blue lake leading into the softly curving mountains creates a limitless path for the eye to follow, while the multi-textured rocks in the foreground provide a definite anchor in the present state of nature. As we move from the earthy tones of the glacial rocks to the ethereal pearl white of the morning light, the feeling of being lifted upwards creates a carefree and peaceful atmosphere. With the clouds, like birds, flowing up towards the sky and the mountains receding into the distance, the painting is boundless with joy and simplicity. A rare case when Roerich's symbolism is void of any allusions of a mystical or esoteric nature, this painting invokes parallels with Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, which he was so fond of.
We are grateful to Gvido Trepsa, Senior Researcher, Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York, for providing this note.