Description of the picture:
Overseas guests – Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich. 1901. Oil on canvas. Eighty 5 x 112.5 cm
Two years before the creation of this picture, the painter made a journey along the aqua path, which the ancient Rusich called “from the Vikings to the Greeks.” A visit to Novgorod the Great and its surroundings amazed Roerich’s imagination and found reflection in a series of paintings devoted to the famous stories of this northern region. As a result, a picture was born in which half-handed, semi-fantastic ideas about the past Russia were displayed.
The canvas depicts an aqua landscape with a caravan of lavishly crowned rooks. “Overseas guests” sailing on them – merchants from distant countries, bringing various wonders for sale. These are Viking ships, which in Russia were called Vikings. They were not only fearless and unsafe warriors, but also professional, entrepreneurial traders. Thanks to the aqua routes, the connections of old Novgorod and other cities were maintained not only with the countries of Eastern and Western Europe, Scandinavia, but also with such distant and exotic states as India and China.
Roerich’s painting found a reflection of a folk, fabulous idea of how merchant ships of wealthy “guests” – overseas merchants looked like. Their boats are decorated with carvings, richly and brightly painted, go under beautiful colored sails. But they are not defenseless – their sides are hung with large teardrop-shaped shields, and inside the rooks people sit, shackled in strong iron armor from head to foot.
The smooth gliding of the ships along the aquatic surface is emphasized by the juicy color spots from the bright ornaments on the boats, scattering from their waves and reflected in it. The sea is calm, dark blue, over it greetings circling large snow-white gulls with spectacular dark tips of the wings.
In the background, you can see a small peninsula, whose outlines are very reminiscent of two volcanoes, which are not in the Russian north. Two more rooks appear on the horizon, and it becomes clear that a very large and well-off caravan of merchants from distant states is moving to the shores. And on the side there is mountainous land, maybe a large peninsula. On one of the peaks you can see the usual city of the era of the early Middle Ages – Posad, several houses fenced with a protective wall.
Throughout the picture, the spirit of fairy-tale antiquity is felt, as in the illustration to the epics, little popular, very positive and cheerful. This is a poetic and very lyrical depiction of antiquity, creating the effect of a very elegant and prestigious mural."