When Nikolai Roerich stopped at Ak-Tagh on 2 October 1925, the thirteenth day of his expedition from Leh, Ladakh, to Khotan in Chinese Turkestan, he wrote in his travel diary:
In the frosty morning sun, the snowy Mount Lenin was clearly outlined before our camp. [We] gave this name to the highest peak of the Patos range on our way from [Little] Tibet. The mountain hovers above the crossroads to Karghalik-Yarkend and to Karakash-Khotan...The mountain towers like a cone between the two wings of the white ridge.
The reference to Lenin was a way to appease the regime in Moscow, where he went soon afterwards; Roerich omitted the name in the English version of his diary. In his list of paintings, he refers to the mountain by its local name, Ak-tag. This small yet impressive piece is a classic example of Roerich's ability to capture the grandeur of a vast mountain landscape using only a few lines. The direct, central composition establishes a distance between the viewer and the mountain range, creating an awe-inspiring effect that gives the otherwise small painting a sense of infinite size.
We are grateful to Gvido Trepsa, Senior Researcher at the Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York, for his assistance in cataloguing the present work.