“Pantelimon-healer”, Nikolai Rerich – overview of the painting

“Pantelimon-healer”, Nikolai Rerich – overview of the painting
"Pantelimon-healer", Nikolai Rerich - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Nikolay Konstantinovich Rerich
  • Museum: Tretyakov Gallery
  • Year: 1916

Overview of the painting :

Panteleimon-target – Nikolay Konstantinovich Rerich. 1916. Canvas, tempera. 130 x 178 cm

   Panteleimon-kelite is a legendary saint who is addressed with prayers for healing from disease. In the pantheon of Russian saints, he is one of the most revered. It is interesting that traditionally in the Orthodox icon painting he is portrayed as a young man. But in the interpretation of Rerich Panteleimon, an old man who has been moving with a key for years because of weakness and old age.

   In the picture, the saint is busy with his professional business. Panteleimon was a doctor who believes in the power of the divine principle in all living things. He healed patients with healing herbs that he collected through forests and fields. According to legend, the saint never destroyed even the weed grass and poisonous plant, reverence and respect for God’s creation. Only to harmful herbs he affectionately spoke out and threatened with a finger, convincing him not to do evil.

   The canvas captured vast spaces with tiny trees growing here and there. A tiny old man against the background of the landscape seems to be a giant compared to these miniature trees.

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

   The elder roams the hills and valleys, looking out and collecting medicinal plants in his bag. He already has so many of them that they are completely and not placed in the state.

   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 curved figure of the saint seems simply part of this vast landscape. He is dressed in traditional monastic clothes, on his head a dark cone hat or a hood, a dark cassock and a light cloak, the color of which reflects green herbs.

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

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