Peace and wisdom through Beauty! Such is the message of Nicholas Roerich, pronounced at the very time when so many are vainly seeking the secret of international peace through suppression, through armament, through hate.
For America, Roerich’s gospel has a peculiar significance because within his soul there dwells a profound understanding and love for this country. Some twenty-three years ago in his native Russia he indicated his confidence in our artistic future, by assisting in the first America Art Exhibition in Russia. Since then he has ever been a sincere friend of America. To him, in turn, America has paid its reciprocal tribute, by the profound reverence with which his works have been greeted in this country. Upon his arrival in America for the exhibition of his works in 1920, he was welcomed everywhere and his exhibition which toured America, as well as that of his new paintings in New York, won for him a series of personal tributes. He has been made an honorary member of the Boston Arts Club, Honorary President of Corona Mundi, Inc., Honorary President of the Master Institute of United Arts and has been accorded numerous other honors.
To Russians, the name of Roerich is coupled with such geniuses of their nation as Mussorgsky and Dostoyevsky and his influence during his directorship of the School for the Encouragement of Arts in Petrograd, and as first president of the Mir Iskusstva cannot be overestimated.
Notwithstanding the close relationship which seems to unite him at once to Russia and America, Roerich’s influence transcends any single nationality, as evidenced by the fact that the seven hundred of his paintings are distributed through twenty countries. His is a vision without boundaries. His paintings, beside their magnificence, have the quality of prophecy, a quality which one of his countrymen has summed up by saying, “Roerich is capable of seeing further and clearer than the uninitiated. Through the veil of the temporary, he sees the eternal.”
And truly Roerich’s vision is that of one who reads from scrolls unseen by the neophyte. His spirit has prophesied visions of a new world, where rife and discord are no more, and where the power of Beauty in Action fills mankind with ineffable Love and understanding.
And for this reason a special significance is connected with the following extracts from his letters, which we have the great privilege of publishing in this volume.