Supported by The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
Supported by The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich

Author name
Старый Псков. Эскиз декорации к опере Н.А.Римского-Корсакова «Псковитянка»
oil tempera on canvas
50.8 × 76.1 cm
Location of the works
Nicholas Roerich Museum. New York

Roerich Museum, New York (1923); Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires (loan) (1930); Nicholas Roerich Museum (1970)

"The Old Pskov", 1922, is a sketch for the opera by Rimsky-Korsakov "The Maid of Pskov". The action of the opera takes place in Pskov and its environs in 1570, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. This sketch was paired with another picture: "Pskov" of 1922, which is smaller in size and, probably, had been created previously. These two works are undoubtedly related to each other by the representation of the same place painted from different distances. In both paintings, the viewer's eyes are directed to an archway, which highlights the theatrical concept of the composition.
In this work, we can already see the entire snow-white cathedral, and even the town gate with a hilly space and a river behind it. A sitting man, who looks at something in the distance, enhances the feeling of waiting, apparently, for the tsar who approaches to Pskov with his army.
Roerich used this technique in many works, approximating and distancing the visible angle, highlighting some details, framing the view and even "displacing" some edifices and natural objects.

"In a slow destruction, the picturesque details of Novgorod and Pskov lose their identity. We could not enumerate all things that perish, but even where we consciously want to defend the antiquity, we get something strange...".

N. Roerich. A Trip to Ancient Places.

"I have always found something especially exiting in theatrical works, as well as in monumental wall painting".

N.K. Roerich. "Theater". 1937