Bonhams to Auction American Landscape Paintings by Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich

Two rare works by the celebrated Russian artist Nikolai Roerich are amongst the highlights of the Russian sale, taking place on the 30th November at Bonhams, New Bond Street in London.

“The Grand Canyon” (estimate 100,000-150,000 GBP) and “Rocky Landscape” (estimate 100,000-150,000 GBP) depicting breathtaking landscape of the South-West are among a small group of paintings completed by the artist during his short stay in New Mexico, Arizona and California in August-October 1921.

Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich (Russian, 1874-1947), The Grand Canyon, c. 1921. Signed with artist’s monogram (lower right) tempera on canvas, laid on board, 42 x 72.4cm (16 9/16 x 28 1/2in). £100,000-150,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

Roerich was immediately seduced by the intensity of the blue endless sky, crimson sunsets, fiery red mountains, and endless open landscapes. Fresh and exotic beauty of the ancient cliff dwellings in the Jemez Mountains north of Santa Fe, spectacular canyons, and excavated dwelling of the ancient civilizations fascinated Nikolai Roerich. ‘The beauty of Switzerland, Norway, Central Asia, and the Caucasus… Africa, Spain, Italy – it is all here and truly amazing,’ he told a reporter. Magnificent red mountains of Santa Fe and Grand Canyon with remains of the ancient civilization lying at their feet were an endless source of spiritual and creative inspiration for the artist. The artist captured remote and timeless beauty of the American Southwest in a small series of works of which these two paintings are very fine examples.

In the inventory of Roerich paintings published in the Roerich Museum catalogue there are several entries that correspond to the body of works completed by the artist during his travel through New Mexico and Arizona, including Cliff Dwelling, Grand Canyon/ Arizona, Santa Fe/ New Mexico, Rio Grande, Santa Fe. Artist’s ‘List of Paintings, 1917-1924’ there are several entries listing works completed during that trip: Arizona, Studies of Arizona and Red Mountains, Santa Fe. However, the compete inventory of the series with precise dimensions and inventory numbers is absent making it impossible to confirm exact title or exact location for each painting. Numerous sketches created by the artist in preparation for the larger paintings exist, including one drawing from the collection of Nikolas Roerich museum in New York.

Both paintings were exhibited at the Nicolas Roerich Museum in New York in 1917-1928. These exceptional paintings are expected to generate strong interest among the international collectors.

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