Educated at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts, he was not only a scenic designer but also an archaeologist and landscape painter. Roerich's paintings evidence an intense feeling for the epic dimensions and mystery of nature, particularly prehistoric nature. As a scenic designer Roerich worked within the conservative tradition of the picture-frame stage.
In 1920 Nicholas Roerich emigrated to the United States, where he fashioned a reputation as a painter, seer, guru, and peacenik, especially among the well-to-do, who provided him funds and even built him museums, one of which still stands in New York City. In 1930 Nicholas Roerich befriended Henry Wallace, who, after becoming secretary of agriculture in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, sent him on a botanical expedition to the Gobi desert to determine whether conditions there had answers for America's Dust Bowl. Ignoring his mission for the most part, Roerich waded into Asian politics, roaming with a Cossack bodyguard and vainly urging Buddhist masses to revolution.
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