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Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947)

The Greatest and Holiest of Tangla from the 'Shambhala' series

Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947)
The Greatest and Holiest of Tangla from the 'Shambhala' series
numbered and dated 'N. 79. 1929.' (on the stretcher)
tempera on canvas
29 x 46¼ in. (73.7 x 117.5 cm.)
The collection of Louis and Nettie Horch, New York.
Robert Scheip, circa 1970.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1975.
Exhibition catalogue, The Greatest and the Holiest of the Thang-La. Series 'Shambhala', New York, 1930, no. 995.
Roerich Museum Bulletin, II, May - June, 1932, illustrated on the cover.
New York, Nicholas Roerich Museum, 1929-1935.

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Lot Essay

The present work depicts the Tangla mountain range in Tibet. In September of 1927, Nicholas Roerich crossed the range with his family during his first Central Asiatic expedition. Nicholas Roerich's youngest son George described the difficult task that the family endured crossing the mountains, writing:

'We decided to rise early in the morning and cross the Thang La before the usual afternoon storm. Next morning we started at half-past five. The atmosphere was remarkably transparent. The whole of the Thang La Range stood out clearly and its white, sparkling outline rose high above the intricate mountain country that stretched around it. The ascent was long but not too steep. The Pass of the Thang La is believed to be the abode of some thirty-three gods or heavenly denizens, and our Mongolas and Tibetans says that it was an auspicious sign that we were crossing the pass on an exceptionally fine day. There is a firm belief among the caravaneers of Tibet, that whenever an undesirable person comes into Tibet, a scornful wind blows over the pass and the unlucky travelers freeze on the icy slopes of the mountain' (George N. Roerich, Trails to Inmost Asia: Five Years of Exploration with the Roerich Central Asian Expedition, New Haven, 1931, p. 290).

The present work is one of eight known paintings of the mountains and was part of the 'Shambhala' series, from 1929. Not only is Roerich's voyage during the 1920s visually recorded in his paintings, such as the present work, it is also recorded in his book 'Shambhala the Resplendent.' In the foreword to the journal, Daniel Entin, the Director of the Roerich Museum in New York, described Shambhala as possibly 'a place, a notion of idealized perfection, or a goal for the spiritual pilgrim. Maybe it is all of these. It is certainly not the Shangri-la of popular imagination.'

We are grateful to Gvido Trepsa and The Roerich Museum, New York, for their assistance with the cataloguing of the present lot.

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