This magnificent work comes from Roerich's Sancta Series. With its lavender colours and symbolic subject matter, it showcases Roerich's metaphysical style of painting. The work depicts two Russian monks amidst a snowy landscape. A simply constructed wooden monastery perches on the brow of a hill and a docile looking brown bear accompanies the monks as they converse.
In 1922, while in Chicago as a guest of the director of the local opera company, Roerich created a series entitled Sancta consisting of six paintings, each beginning with the words"And we…". The six works are titled And We Are Not Afraid (1), And We Labor (2), And We Continue to Fish (3), And We Open the Gates (4), And We Bring Light (5), and And We See (6).
The clear spirituality of the work seems to relate to the teaching of the Russian ascetic, the Reverend Sergius Radonezhsky, for whom Roerich created a number of other paintings during his life and it is possible that Roerich was home sick for his native Russia.
Roerich Museum, New York
Baltzar E. Bolling
Private Collection, London
New York, Roerich Museum, 1930
Grand Haven Michigan, Exhibit of Paintings by Nicholas Roerich, 1969
Musee de Montmartre, Russes, Paris, 2003
Roerich Museum catalogue, New York 1924
V.N. Ivanov and E. Gollerbakh, Roerich, Riga, 1939, illustrated p.37
J. Decter, Nicholas Roerich, London 1989, illustrated p.124
Tempera on canvas
102cm x 135cm