Sviatoslav Roerich


Sviatoslav Roerich (1904-1993) was an outstanding painter, world-famous portraitist and public figure.

Sviatoslav Roerich was born on 23 October 1904 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was the younger son of Helena and Nicholas Roerich. Family life for the Roerichs was something quite wonderful. From their earliest years, the two brothers were brought up in an atmosphere of creative activities, beauty, work and inspiration. Sviatoslav received his first lessons in painting at the Karl May School (a secondary school in St. Petersburg) due to his early interest in the natural sciences. In England and the US, he studied at the best institutions of higher learning, entering Columbia University’s school of architecture in 1920.

He was fully engaged in the work of the cultural organizations that had been founded in the US by his parents, Nicholas and Helena: the community of painters “Cor Ardens” and the Master Institute of United Arts. In 1923, he became director of “Corona Mundi”, the international center of art founded by his father. There, he delivered lectures, did much to advance the Roerich Pact and participated in the work of many cultural and academic institutions in the US and in Europe.

In 1928, the Roerich family took up residence in Naggar–a settlement in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, in India. There, the family established the Urusvati Research Institute. At the Institute, Sviatoslav oversaw the botany, ornithology and crystallography departments, studied Tibetan pharmacology, researched ether-bearing plants and arranged expeditions for the collection of rare plants. He also continued to develop as an painter capable of producing highly original works of astonishing beauty in a variety of subjects ranging from landscapes to portraits.

In his book “Art and Life”, Sviatoslav Roerich writes: “The task of producing a well-rounded, improved version of ourselves must be taken up daily. We must try to bring beauty and harmony to each of our actions . . . .  A beautiful life—what a great idea! To build with beauty is a holy endeavor, passed down to us by the Great Leaders of Evolution.”