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NICHOLAS ROERICH (1874-1947)
Lots which are Art Treasures under the Art and Ant… Read more PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR, NEW DELHINATIONAL ART TREASURE - NON EXPORTABLE
NICHOLAS ROERICH (1874-1947)

Sasser

Details
NICHOLAS ROERICH (1874-1947)
Sasser
inscribed in Russian with colour notes (overall); further inscribed with title and numbered 'N 11' (on the reverse)
pencil and tempera on paper
9 x 11 7/8 in. (23 x 30.2 cm.)
Executed circa 1925
Provenance
Nicholas Roerich Museum, 1927-1935
Collection of Louis (1888-1979) and Nettie Horch (1897-1991), New York
Acquired by the family of the previous owner circa 1960
Christie's London, 1 June 2015, lot 21
Literature
Roerich Museum Catalogue, Eighth Edition, New York, 1930, no. 630, p. 27 (listed)
Special Notice

Lots which are Art Treasures under the Art and Antiquities Act 1972 cannot be exported outside India. Please note that lots are marked as a convenience to you and we shall not be liable for any errors in, or failure to, mark any lot.

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Lot Essay

Having been drawn to India for years, Nicholas Roerich and his wife Helena traveled to India for the first time at the end of 1923, when the Roerich family set out on their Asian expedition that lasted for approximately five years. Their journey would take them to India, Sikkim, Ladakh, Chinese Turkestan, Altai, Mongolia and Tibet. It was the Roerichs’ goal to explore unknown regions in order to study the religions, languages and customs of their inhabitants and to absorb the immense spiritual impact these lands held for them.

The Roerichs settled in Darjeeling at the beginning of 1924, and from there would travel to Nepal, Sikkim and the Tibetan Plateau. According to Buddhist legends Sikkim was known as 'the hidden land'; an impenetrable, secret kingdom, hidden by the gates of its highest mountain, Kanchenjunga. A site of great philosophical significance and inspiration to the artist, having first seen an image of it in his childhood, Roerich painted the famous mountain about a dozen times in the year 1924 alone, and continued to come back to this subject many times during his life.

When travelling in the Karakoram mountain range during this expedition in 1925-1928, Roerich, Helena and their son George traversed seven mountain passes between the ancient capitals Leh and Khotan. In his epic book, Heart of Asia, the artist provides a detailed account of the treacherous, yet stunningly beautiful mountain range, underlining that of all the passes crossed on this route, Sasser was the most dangerous, its glacial slope causing George's horse to fall (N. Roerich, Heart of Asia, New York, 1929, p. 31). In spite of the constant difficulties experienced by his caravan, Roerich managed to create a vast series of works inspired by the awesome landscapes he saw for the first time, thanks to which a wider international audience was able to become familiar with parts of the world that were virtually unknown at the time.

The present painting is a fine example of Roerich's work en plein air, caught at a moment of rest near Sasser Pass. With a keen sense of observation and a penchant for accuracy, the artist deftly portrayed the mountains and their atmospheric variations. Using bright white pigment Roerich rendered the sunlit snow covering the peaks of the mountains. With clever use of impasto, the rocky surface beneath the snow can easily be read. This painting is carefully and beautifully executed, reflecting Roerich’s exceptional attention to detail, complete with colour notes in various parts of the landscape that would serve as a tool for future completion.

We are grateful to Gvido Trepša, Executive Director of the Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York for his assistance in cataloguing this work.

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