Svеtoslav Roerich was born on October, 23, 1904 in St. Petersburg in family a well-known Russian artist, a scientist, a writer and a poet Nicholas Roerich and Helena Roerich who comes from the old noble Golenishchev-Kutuzov family. Svеtoslav Roerich's parents were very educated people, had multilateral knowledge in many fields of Russian culture.
From 1914 to 1916 Svеtoslav Roerich studied at the Gymnasium of K.I. Maya. It was this School where he took his first drawing classes. Father often took him with him in archeological trips along old Russian cities where he studied a history and a culture of Russia. From 1916 to 1918 together with his family he lived in Finland where he painted the first portrait of his father. That time he was only 13 years old. From 1918 to 1920 he lived in London where he was going to enter the Academy of Architecture. Having continued to attend the drawing classes together with his father he participated in creation of scenery to the performances "Prince Igor", "Snow Maiden", "Sadko".
Since 1920 he lived in the USA. There he entered the Colombia University on the Architectural Branch and having graduated at he got the Bachelor degree. That time he also painted many pictures; he was engaged in a book illustration and graphic arts. Since 1923 Svetoslav Roerich became a head of the International Arts Center " Corona Mundi" in New York, which was established by his parents. Besides making of numerous duties of the Head he continued drawing, and according to the critics his art talent blossomed at once. In 1923 in New York Arden Gallery, the first personal exhibition of Svеtoslav Roerich's work took place. This is where the Press first notices the artist. That time he was only 19 years old. But Svetoslav Roerich made great strides only in 1926. In Philadelphia, at an exhibition devoted to the 150th anniversary of the Independence of the USA, Svetoslav Roerich won the "Grand Prix".
In 1931, having finished his studies, Svetoslav Roerich left the USA and moved to India, to live with his parents in an old house in the Kulu Valley. Drawing took him more and more time. Creatively having apprehended many art ideas and belief of his father, Svetoslav Roerich became a very individual artist.
Studying culture, art and philosophy of India, he created a set of remarkable canvasses. Besides landscapes he painted many portraits from which it would be desirable to mention the portraits of his father Nicholas Roerich, the Prime Minister of India Dzhavaharlala Nehru and Svetoslav Roerich’s wife Deviki Rani who was a well-known Indian film actress. They got married in 1945.
The portrait of his mother Helena Roerich is one of the nicest ones.
His personal exhibitions, which were taking place in Soviet Union in 1960 and also in 1974, had colossal success.
Svetoslav Roerich was also an outstanding public figure. His various work was highly appreciated in Russia and other countries. He was an honorary academician of the Academy of Arts in the USSR, a prizewinner of the International Premium of name Jawahatlal Nehru, an honorary member of the Bulgarian Academy of Arts. In India he was awarded with the highest prize of this country "Padsha-Bhushan".
Svetoslav Roerich was teaching and sponsored the School of Arts in Bangalore. Earlier he was the head of the departments of a folk art and the national pharmacopoeia in the Institute "Urusvati" established in India in 1928.
His contribution to the war for the peace and strengthening of the friendship between India and Russia is huge. During the Great Patriotic War Svetoslav Nikolaevich repeatedly addressed to the Soviet ambassador in London with the request to accept him for the Red Army.
Svetoslav Roerich was the spiritual successor of his great father and the continuer of his affair.
He died on January, 30, 1993.
Svetoslav Roerich’s biography:
Svetoslav was born on October, 11 (23), 1904 in St. Petersburg.
Svetoslav studies at the Gymnasium of K.I. Maya. At this time, he becomes interested in botany, ornithology and mineralogy; he makes herbariums, takes part in private theatre activities.
The Roerichs move to Serdobol on the Karelian Isthmus, because of Nicholas Roerich's illness.
Svetoslav Roerich paints the first portrait of his father.
Svetoslav goes with his parents to London. He starts to study architecture and painting very seriously, and helps his father with work on the costumes and set designs for the Russian performances at Covent Garden. During this year, the meeting with R. Tagore takes place.
The Roerich family moves from England to New York, USA, where Svetoslav enters Colombia University.
Svetoslav Roerich enters the Architectural School at Harvard University. At this time, he also sculpts on a course run by the Massachusetts Technological Institute and studies western European and modern art.
Svetoslav frequently visits Europe, and becomes acquainted with the most famous art collections. He has his first creative experience connected with theatrical and decorative art. He creates the libretto, and sketches for the costumes and scenery for the ballet staged to the music by Alexander Steinert "Light and Darkness" in Boston. He also takes active part in the work of those public and cultural organizations which were founded by N.K. Roerich in the USA (an international society of artists Cor Ardens (Flaming Heart), in Chicago; Corona Mundi (Crown of the World), an international art center; and the Master Institute of United Arts and others).
In the New York Arden Gallery, the first personal exhibition of Svetoslav Roerch's work takes place. This is where the Press first notices the artist. Svetoslav Roerich, together with his parents, goes to Paris, where Svetoslav's brother George is studying. Then, the Roerichs go from Marseilles to Bombay, and from Bombay they start on a lengthy journey across India. Here, Svetoslav creates his first series of paintings devoted to India.
Svetoslav Roerich returns to America to continue his studies at Harvard
In Philadelphia, at an exhibition devoted to the 150th anniversary of the Independence of the USA, Svetoslav Roerich wins the "Grand Prix".
Svetoslav Roerich continues to take part in the activities of cultural institutions, and works with the governmental organizations of different countries for the realization of the Pact of Peace, suggested by his father.
Svetoslav leaves for India to meet his father, mother and brother, who have returned from the expedition through Central Asia. He then returns to New York with his father and brother.
During the celebration in New York of the 40th anniversary of the start of the artistic life of Nicholas Roerich, and also his 55th birthday, a new arrangement exhibiting the works of art of father and son is opened on three floors of a 28-storeyed skyscraper to where the Nicholas Roerich Museum moved in 1923. The Museum continued at this same location until 1935, when its collections were almost completely appropriated by Horsh, one of its directors. The museum subsequently re-opened in a building in West 107th Street, and it is still there today.
Having finished his studies, S. Roerich leaves the USA and moves to India, to live with his parents in an old house in the Kulu Valley, at a place called Naggar. At this time, Svetoslav Roerich paints extensively from nature. In the scientific institute called "Urusvati", founded by his parents, Svetoslav Roerich becomes the head of the department studying the local pharmacopoeia, flora and fauna; he gathers ancient manuscripts, and makes a collection of Central Asian and Indian artworks (icons, known as thank has, and bronze sculptures, miniatures, adornments and fabrics).
The first exhibition of Svetoslav Roerich's work in India takes place. At the State Exhibition of the United Provinces in Lucknow, four pieces of his work are displayed.
Svetoslav Roerich takes part in the exhibition in Allahabad, where he meets Jawaharlal Nehru.
The exhibitions of Svetoslav Roerich are staged in many cities of India.
The exhibitions of Svetoslav Roerich are staged in Chicago, USA and Indore, India.
S. Roerich comes to Kulu to visit his Father, with Jawaharlal Nehru and his young daughter, Indira. At that time he paints the first portraits of J. Nehru, one of which became the best work in this genre.
S. Roerich becomes acquainted with the famous Indian film actress, Devika Rani, who was the head of the film studio "Bombay Тоkiz". She was Rabindranath Tagore's grandniece, and was brought up by his family.
S. Roerich marries Devika Rani. In Kulu, together with S. Roerich, Devika starts collecting items of folklore, and becomes acquainted with the local culture created by an unusual conglomerate of peoples.
After N. Roerich's death, Svetoslav Nikolaevich and Devika Rani make their residence in the South of India, in Bangalore, on the estate "Tatguni". At this time he deals with plants, selling essential oils to the perfumery industries of Switzerland and France. This gives him a means of living, as S. Roerich keeps his paintings in his own collection selling them only to museums.
S. Roerich, together with his wife, visits Helena Ivanovna and George Roerich in Kalimpong. At this time, K.Campbell - Stibbe (the President of the board of directors of the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York), and Ingeborg Fritsche (the secretary of the board of directors) go there to discuss future plans concerning the work of the N. Roerich Museum and cultural institutions organized on its basis.
In Delhi, a large exhibition of S. Roerich’s paintings opens and is open for a month. The exhibition is ceremonially opened by the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Then, S. Roerich receives from the Soviet Government an invitation to go to Moscow with the exhibition of his works. In April, Svetoslav and his wife go to his Motherland, which he has not seen for almost forty-five years. The exhibition opens in Moscow in May 1960, in the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. During the time of the exhibition, the brother of the painter, George Roerich, dies suddenly. After Moscow, the exhibition is shown with great success at the Hermitage in Leningrad, where the painter goes to make necessary arrangements. In Moscow, S. Roerich, as the only heir, gives the personal library of his brother to the Institute of Orientalists, where the Memorial Room of Professor George Roerich opens. Then, he addresses himself to the Government with the request to give the paintings of his father, and thew artworks of the Orient, which are left in the flat of George Roerich, to any state museum, but nothing is achieved. He also addresses himself to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR with the request to take charge of the Institute of the Himalayan Researches in Kulu.
S. Roerich comes to the celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Nicholas Roerich, and his own seventieth birthday, in Moscow. He brings 282 paintings, 122 of which are the works by his father, to his Motherland for exhibiting in different cities of the country. The paintings of his father are displayed at a large memorial exhibition in the halls of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, whilst his own works are displayed in the halls of the State Tretyakov Gallery. The Academy of Sciences holds the first scientific conference, devoted to the creative work of the Roerich’s.
At this time, S. Roerich goes to Switzerland and collects from his friend, Katherine Campbell-Stibbe, a donation of forty-two paintings by Nicholas Roerich. These are from a series depicting Russian architecture, and are a gift to the Russian people; he presents the donation to the Minister of Culture. Later, Katherine Campbell will donate to the State Museum of Oriental Arts about a hundred paintings of Nicholas and Svetoslav Roerich, and a large collection of artworks of t5he Orient from the collection of the Roerich’s, as well as their archives, books and mementoes, which will become the basis of the permanent exposition of the Memorial Room of N.K. Roerich.
The exhibition moves to Bulgaria, where Svetoslav Roerich is invited to take part in the celebrations commemorating 100 years since the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman yoke. The exhibition is shown in different cities of Bulgaria during the year, and it then returns to Moscow in a slightly modified form. In Sofia at this time, and with the participation of S. Roerich, the assembly of children known as "The Banner of Peace" is held.
S. Roerich is awarded a diploma as an honored member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR. The painter, together with his wife, Devika Rani, makes a trip to Suzdal and Moscow.
In Moscow, a large jubilee exhibition devoted to the 110th anniversary of the
birth of N.K.Roerich, and the 80th anniversary of the birth of S.N. Roerich,
takes place. The exhibition lasts for more than a year, and the paintings are
shown in 22 halls of the State Museum of Oriental Arts. Long queues of people
are standing in the street. Svetoslav and Devika Rani are present at the
scientific conference devoted to the Roerichs' art and their priceless
contribution to the world culture.
A decision was made to found a museum of N.K. Roerich as an affiliate of the State Museum of Oriental Arts.
S. Roerich has a meeting with thousands of Muscovites in the hall of the Central Auditorium of the Polytechnic Museum.
A decision was made to found in a large building, 14 Neglinka St., the Museum of N. Roerich. It was also planned to open art studios for children, a center of folk-crafts, a studio of theatrical art, a center of international interchange of exhibitions, and a musical center of Helena Roerich. At the banquet in the Kremlin, where Svetoslav Roerich and his wife were invited, the President of the country, Mikhail Gorbachev, approved this decision.
The administration and continual financial patronage of the school named in honor of Aurobindo Ghose in Bangalore, where more than two thousand children from three to fifteen years of age study. Besides the activity at school, Svetoslav Roerich and Deviuka Rani spend much time on the foundation of a cultural center, the "Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath" in Bangalore, which later became affiliated to the local university, and had a great number of studios for children, and a large library on the art of different countries.
The last visit of Svetoslav Roerich to the State Museum of Oriental Arts during his visit to Moscow. At this time, the painter was already severely ill. During a two-hour conversation in the Memorial Room of Nicholas Roerich, Svetoslav talks about his wish to present his exhibition collection to the museum, "so that the paintings can continue to bring happiness to people".
Several public Roerich organizations are established: The international association, Peace Through Culture, The Soviet Fund of Roerich’s, The International Center of the Roerichs, etc.
30 January, 1993
Svetoslav Roerich dies in Bangalore and is buried on his estate, "Tatguni".
According to the book of O.V. Rumiantseva
"Svetoslav Roerich. Sacred Flute".