A commemorative postage stamp on the Birth Centenary of Svetoslav Roerich, a Russian and Indian painter, husband of Devika Rani :
Issued by India
Issued on Oct 27, 2004
Issued for : The Department of Posts honours the memory of Svetoslav Roerich through issue of this commemorative postage stamp.
Stamp & FDC : Sankha Samanta
Cancellation : Alka Sharma
Type : Block of 4 Stamps, Mint Condition
Colour : Multicolour
Denomination : 500 Paise
Print Quantity : 0.6 Million
Printing Process : Photogravure
Printer : Indian Security Press, Nashik
Name : Svetoslav Nikolaevich Roerich
Born on Oct 23, 1904 at Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Died on Jan 30, 1993 at Bangalore, Karnataka, India
- India has attracted people from all over the world. If it was for some the rich natural resources and unexplored wealth, for others it was the spiritual heritage of this ancient civilization. There were others who found aesthetic inspiration for their creative pursuit. Some of those who belong to the last category were so consumed by the Indian ethos that they decided to make it their home, though not necessarily changing their nationalities. Dr. Svetoslav Roerich was one such legendary artist who, a Russian, made India his home.
- Svetoslav was born on October 23, 1904 at St. Petersburg, Russia. His father Prof. Nicholas Roerich was known for his lofty contributions in the field of fine arts, innumerable paintings, culture, ideology and humanistic ideas. His mother Helena Roerich was also a scholar in her own right. She wrote on ethical and spiritual subjects, especially on the importance of women’s role in the new era. At the age of 12, Svetoslav painted his first portrait of his father, which was greatly appreciated. In 1919 in London, he started studies in architecture and painting seriously. He also helped his father in his work on costumes and set designs for Russian theatre artists. Soon his family moved out of England to the United States of America in 1920, where he entered the Architectural Branch of the Columbia University. He continued his education at the Architectural School at Howard University. In 1926, at an exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of American Independence in Philadelphia, Svetoslav won the Grand Prix.
- On completion of his studies in the USA in 1931, he left for India to live with his parents in the Kulu Valley in a place called Naggar where they have been residing since 1923. He was made the Head of the Department of studying the local pharmacopoeia, flora and fauna in the scientific institute called ‘Uruswati’ founded by his father. He married Devika Rani, a grand-niece of Poet Rabindranath Tagore, in 1945. She was the First Lady of the Indian Cinema. In 1947, after the death of Nicholas Roerich, Svetoslav and Devika shifted their residence to South Bangalore. His amiable manners, broad outlook and keen appreciation of human values won friends among the eminent personalities like Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Sarojini Naidu etc. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan Award, one of the most coveted honours of India in 1961. He also received doctorate of the University of Cyril and Methodism, Bulgaria, in the same year.
- The Indian ethos left an imprint on his aesthetics. In a majority of his canvases he painted in India, he presents a mosaic of vistas of this country, its people, its landscape dotted with high mountains, its flora and fauna, its legends and anthropological peculiarities. He was honoured Fellowship by Central Lalit Kala Akademy in 1987.
- His association with Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath was lifelong. He graciously gifted 117 works of his father and his own to the Parishath for a permanent display. The Parishath on its part built two separate galleries for the purpose. This unique display of those rare paintings has enhanced the prestige of the Parishath. This association between the Parishath and the ace Russian artist may easily be described as one of the most glorious chapters in its history. His views, opinions and philosophy of art were published by the Parishath in a book called “Humanism in Art“.
- Dr. Svetoslav Roerich passed away on January 30, 1993. Dr. Svetoslav Roerich’s contribution will keep his memory alive, as a true embodiment of aesthetic fervors and indelible union of two cultures, India and Russia.
- Text : Based on material given by the proponent.