Description of the picture:
The bridge of glory – Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich. 1923. Tempera on canvas. 81.8 x 163.2 cm
The picture refers to the Karelian period of the artist’s work, when he traveled to the north of Russia and other countries. The canvas captures one of the wonders of nature – the northern lights, bright lights illuminating the horizon of a long, northern night. But in this picture this wonderful phenomenon is shown not only as a manifestation of the power of nature. It has a metaphorical meaning – it is a symbol of spiritual purification and enlightenment.
This idea is prompted by a small chapel depicted in one corner of the picture, half-hidden by the mighty northern pines. Such chapels were built in Orthodox monasteries and hermitages, of which there were a lot in the Russian North. Believers deliberately chose these harsh places to serve God, since nothing distracted them from spiritual purification and transformation.
The picture is made in cool blue and blue tones, which further emphasizes its northern “origin”. Despite the almost monochrome palette, the image does not seem at all monotonous or boring. If you look closely, you will notice small inclusions of greenish and yellowish tones in the northern lights, as well as crimson and pink grains on the slope where the chapel is located. All this gives the canvas volume and emphasizes the attractiveness of the cool blue-blue palette chosen by the artist.
Cold colors seem to shimmer over the canvas, creating a three-dimensional effect of presence and an amazing sense of ownership. This canvas makes you think, dive into yourself, feel unity with millions of departed ancestors.
Opposite the chapel, a silhouette resembles an Orthodox black monk in a hood and a long cape. There are no recognizable individual and distinctive features in it, it is a collective image of all monasticism, atone for the sins of mankind with its ascetic life. There is evidence that the writer Vsevolod Ivanov knew that in the image of a monk, Roerich depicted the most revered saint in the Orthodox religion – Sergius of Radonezh. He is considered an intercessor, defender of Russia, a spiritual mentor and teacher.
The figure of a monk is located on the crest of a dark slope. Behind him stretches a huge bay of the cold sea, with rugged coasts and deep bays. In the background are low hills of distant islands. And over all this calm reigns the sparkling and iridescent splendor of the northern lights."