Nicholas Roerich (b St Petersburg, 9 October 1874 – d Nagara, India, 13 December 1947) initially studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts; at the Imperial Academy of Arts 1893–98; and finally at Fernand Cormon’s Paris studio in 1900–01. He began exhibiting in 1895 and became a founding member of Mir Iskusstva, exhibiting with the group from 1902–17 and becoming the journal’s chairman from 1910–13. A member of the Union of Russian Artists from 1903–10, Roerich exhibited in Paris at the Exposition Universelle in 1900, and at the 1906 and 1907 Salons d’Automne.
His theatrical debut was at the Old Theatre, St Petersburg with designs for The three magi (1907). The following year he was commissioned by the Opéra Comique, Paris to produce designs for Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka (The snow maiden). Diaghilev commissioned him to design several ballets for the Ballets Russes—Ivan the Terrible (The maid of Pskov) and Danses polovtsiennes du Prince Igor (1909) and Le Sacre du printemps (The rite of spring) (1913). Roerich continued to design for Russian productions and in 1912 began working for the Moscow Art Theatre.
In 1920 Roerich moved to the United States, where he organised several expeditions to Bhutan, Central Asia, China and Mongolia. In 1928 he founded the Urusvati Research Institute for Himalayan Studies in the Kulu Valley and a year later drafted the Pact for the Preservation of Cultural Treasures during Armed Conflicts (also known as the Roerich Pact) which was the basis for the final act of the Hague Convention of 1954.
Nicholas Roerich c 1919 page 27 in Official program for the Ballets Russes at the Opéra, December 1919– January 1920
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra