San Gimignano

Date: 1906
Media: Pastels on cardboard
Dimensions: 47.3 х 47.3 cm
Ownership: Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Serge Koussevitzky collection, Petrograd (until 1920)
Style: World of Art
Nicholas Roerich, San Gimignano, 1906


Nicholas Roerich travelled across Italy from April to September 1906. He was particularly captivated by the unspoiled beauty of the historical architectural ensembles in the Tuscan hill-towns of Siena and San Gimignano.

San Gimignano is named in honour of Bishop Geminianus of Modena, who allegedly halted the hordes of Attila the Hun at the city walls in the fifth century. Today, the town still looks very much as it did in the Middle Ages.

The main architectural landmarks in San Gimignano are the fifteen surviving medieval towers. They once numbered seventy-two and were built by prominent local families between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.

This drawing is similar to Roerich’s slightly earlier works on Scandinavian and Old Russian themes. The Italian hill-town looks much like the thirteenth-century fortress of Izborsk near Estonia, which the artist visited and depicted in 1903.

Literature: V. V. Sokolovsky, “Khudozhestvennoe nasledie Nikolaya Konstantinovicha Rerikha (perechen’ proizvedenii c 1885 po 1947 gody)”, N. K. Rerikh. Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Sbornik statei, Moscow, 1978, p. 268; Russkie khudozhniki-puteshestvenniki. Proizvedeniya iz fondov grafiki XVIII – nachala XX veka, PC CD-ROM, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2009

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