Baralacha, signed with a monogram, also further signed and titled on the reverse, painted in 1944.
Tempera on canvas, 46 by 92 cm.
Provenance: Presented in 1944 by the artist to the grandfather of the present owner, a distinguished British missionary doctor. Thence by descent. Private collection, UK.
This is one of about ten paintings of the Baralacha Pass that the artist executed during the years 1938-1946. The pass reaches a height of 16,000 ft and is located about 20 miles from the Roerichs' estate in the Kullu valley, on the way to the neighbouring Lahaul. Part of the scenery is the lake Suraj Tal, the source of the Bhaga River.
There is a legend about the two beautiful lakes: Suraj Tal and its counterpart on the other side of the pass.
The story goes that the daughter of the Moon and the son of the Sun were in love and wanted to meet, but this was difficult because the sun and moon come into the sky at different times. They decided to meet on Earth but their parents placed a mountain between them. The two lovers tried to climb over the mountain, but it kept rising. Their sorrow turned them into lakes of great purity - Suraj Tal (Sun Lake) and Chandra Tal (Moon Lake). To amend the injustice, the Sun shone very brightly to melt the snow on the mountains and flooded the lakes. The water gave birth to two mighty rivers, the Chandra and the Bhaga, which flowed around the mountain range. When night fell, the Moon lit up the path of the two rivers and they were finally able to flow
into one another.
The painting was a gift to a friend who saw the Baralacha Pass while travelling in the region. In the accompanying letters Roerich says: "I seldom turn again to old subjects, yet I shall be glad to paint for you ‘Baralacha' because you are our Friend and have been to Lahool." Of the five other Baralachas painted in 1944, four were small sketches on rough cardboard and only one (now in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg) is painted on canvas.
This painting is the most dramatic of the series. Roerich creates a striking contrast between the serene lake and dynamic mountains, split between patches of electric blue and sunset pink. It is a wonderful example of Roerich's late work.
We are thankful to Gvido Trepša, Senior researcher at the Nicholas Roerich Museum, New York, for providing catalogue information