Museums and Art

Panteleimon the Healer, Nicholas Roerich - description of the painting

Panteleimon the Healer, Nicholas Roerich - description of the painting

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Panteleimon the healer - Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich. 130 x 178 cm

Panteleimon the healer is a legendary saint who is addressed with prayers for healing from illnesses. It is interesting that traditionally in Orthodox iconography he is portrayed as a young man. But in the interpretation of Roerich, Panteleimon is an old man bent over years, moving with a stick because of weakness and old age.

In the picture, the saint is busy with his professional work. Panteleimon was a doctor, believing in the power of the divine principle in all living things. He healed the sick with the help of healing herbs, which he collected through forests and fields. According to legend, the saint never destroyed even weeds and poisonous plants, treating God's creation with reverence and respect. He only reprimanded harmful herbs and threatened with his finger, urging him not to do evil.

The canvas captures huge spaces with tiny trees growing here and there. The elder, tiny against the background of the landscape, seems to be a giant in comparison with these miniature trees.

The picture is literally filled with air, which is emphasized by the distant mountains painted in blue and the closer hills dotted with striped shadows. The tops of the hills appear light green because they are illuminated by the rays of the sun. All the space around is literally strewn with flowering plants, the bright colors of which literally sparkle with precious stones in the dark green grass.

The old man wanders through the hills and valleys, looking for and collecting medicinal plants in his bag. He already has so many of them that they completely do not fit in the bag.

The vast expanses in the picture are emphasized by the high, bright sky, through which light, fluffy clouds float. The picture is filled with light and cool color, and the bent figure of the saint seems to be just part of this vast landscape. He is dressed in traditional monastic clothes, on his head a dark cone-shaped hat or hood, a dark cassock and a light cape, the color of which reflects green grass.

The saint does not stand out sharply against the background of the surrounding nature, but seems to be its organic part. This underlines that Panteleimon’s healing is a divine and natural gift that he used for all of humanity, even sacrificing his life. The pagans tied him to an olive tree and wanted to chop off his head for an unshakable Christian faith. According to legend, due to the prayers of the saint, the sword could not kill him immediately. When the head was nevertheless cut off, milk flowed instead of blood, the olive fronted, and Panteleimon's body, thrown into a fire, did not burn, but remained intact.

It is interesting that the artist will repeat this picture in 1931 in brighter and more diverse colors.

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