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Roerich Museum collection, New York, 1924-1935.
Louis and Nettie Horch, New York, 1935-1951.
Baltzar Bolling (1890-1969), 1951-1973.
Nicholas Roerich Museum collection, New York, 1973-2015.
'Nowadays, it is thought important to demand freedom for people, but it is equally important to grant freedom to things. Things must be allowed their own lives, their own freedom to move and exist under whatever new conditions life leads them to, free to go wherever they are most wanted and needed. This is particularly important for artistic and scientific creations. It is ridiculous to impose fees and erect barriers and restrictions when the human spirit has created something special. Let things carry their flame to new places, wherever chance takes them. Let them be free! Let them live their own lives, wherever destiny takes them.'
These words are not mine, they were written by Nicholas Roerich after he had come to America after the Russian Revolution to establish a new life and to found new institutions. He had with him several hundred paintings and established a museum for them in New York. At that time, New York was full of Russian émigrés who had fled the chaos in their own country and settled in this young world that was so strange to them. Many of them had little interest in America, and wanted only to see Russia returned to its old state so that they could return in triumph. Of course, that was not to be, but they questioned Roerich’s rapid embrace of this new country and wanted to know why he was so intent on installing all his new, great works here. He answered their questions and challenges with an article called 'The Freedom of Things'.
Nicholas Roerich was immediately enchanted by the insistent creative energy of America, the spirit that urged each person to carve out a life to his own measurements. 'If I love Russia, why should I not love America too?' he said to all those critics who wanted to know why he was investing so much time and effort here. And it was here that he found the means to fulfill some of his most urgent dreams, one of which was to create a school that would teach all the arts under one roof, together with a museum to hold all his paintings. Roerich insisted that the creative people in any country had a responsibility to protect their culture and their nation, in the furtherance of world peace. And to do that, it was important for creative people in all the various disciplines of creative endeavor to unite. Thus the need for the arts to be studied and practiced all 'under one roof'.
In that spirit, every museum has an educational mission, and indeed, museums are chartered by the educational departments of their state governments. For us at the Nicholas Roerich Museum, with a mission to familiarize the public with the life, the aims, and the art of Nicholas Roerich, it is necessary for our collection to be as broad and complete as possible. Visitors to the museum must be presented with the best and fullest scope of the artist’s output. To this end, the collection of the museum must be continually evaluated, with areas that are overrepresented culled so that other areas can be strengthened.
And it is in that spirit, in order to enrich and build as representative a collection as is possible, that we are doing what we have never done before: offering for sale two wonderful paintings, each quite different from the other, to acquire works that are of equal importance in the Roerich oeuvre, but of a period insufficiently represented in our collection. It is painful to see well-loved paintings go out the front door of the museum, maybe not to be seen again. But these paintings have their own lives to live, their own freedom to go where they are wanted.
Daniel Entin, Director of the Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York
PROPERTY FROM THE NICHOLAS ROERICH MUSEUM, NEW YORK
Nicholas Roerich Museum Archive, Nicholas Roerich, List of Paintings 1917-1924. MS, listed no. 12.
F. Grant et al. Roerich, Himalaya, A Monograph, New York, 1926, listed p. 199, illustrated p. 183.
Roerich Museum Catalogue, Eighth Edition, New York, 1930, listed p. 21, no. 472.
A. Yaremenko. Nicholai Konstantinovich Roerich: His Life and Creations During the Past Forty Years. New York, 1931, listed p. 38, illustrated no. 86.
New York, Roerich Museum, 1924-1935.
New York, Nicholas Roerich Museum, 1973-2015.