Saint Francis by Nicholas Roerich

Saint Francis by Nicholas Roerich

The work of Nicholas Roerich “St. Francis” is a pair to the canvas of 1932 “St. Sergius of Radonezh”. The picture was painted in the same 1932 and is currently located in the collection funds of the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York.

In the painting, St. Francis is depicted in “great simplicity.” The image of Francis is extremely ascetic. The great saint is clothed in a simple, modest monastic attire. In his hands he holds a little pigeon. The monastic dress of Francis is quite spacious and the large vertical lines drawing folds emphasize the fragility and disembodiedness of the saint. Sharp cheekbones and a thin pointed nose, small palms and bare feet – all this represents an incredible spirituality and asceticism, detachment from all earthly things.

A small cross attached to a belt, a kind of, serves as a modest sign of a servant of God. The peace and quiet of the image begins with the image of a pigeon in the hands of Francis and is enhanced by the image of a flowering bush with a nest of birds. Small pink flowers complement this light without harmony-disturbing excesses, predecessors of vice. Birds, their hurried silhouettes, are completely carefree. Birds are not afraid of Francis, feeling mercy and warmth emanating from him. Dark blue clouds do not touch the bright world, protected by Francis, only cautiously fringing its edges. Heat and light emanate from the earth, resting only somewhere very high in the dark blue sky.

Behind the figure of Francis, the monastery is depicted as a symbol of the spiritual monastery and the monastic order, the founder of which is the glorified saint. The image of the monastery is simple in color and compositional solutions. Open muted colors, without detailed drawing, unnecessary details and decorations. The modest image of the monastery seems to be guarded by small mountains of beautiful shades of tempera of purple. The motive of simplicity sounds in the composition, and in the choice of discreet decisions. Meanwhile, the Roerich’s painting “Saint Francis”, though not saturated with bright colors, but the image is built on contrast, which enriches the perception, brings the necessary color and brightness of images, making the visual range more dynamic and interesting.

Roerich’s canvas “Saint Francis” is a serious long work of the author’s thoughts and spirits, able to embody and make more complex and not only great images, but holy images, with the power of art. At the same time, the slightest mistake is destructive both for the creator and for the image he creates. Such a great responsibility is worthy of a great master.

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