Posts Tagged With: Svetoslav Roerich

16 Aug 1931 – West East Portraits

In the 25th story art studio in the Roerich Museum, New York City on the night before he sailed on the Mauretania bound for Paris and India, Svetoslav Roerich put the final touches to the last portrait he had completed during the Spring and Summer.  Svetoslav Roerich work as a portrait painter is known to the hundreds of visitors to the Roerich Museum through an extraordinary and moving piece of realism the portrait of Miss Natacha Rambova, his fiancé.  The artist hosted a private showing of the painting titled “A Young Woman Composer” better known as Natacha Rambova former wife of departed Silent Film Star Rudolph Valentino. Miss Rambova originally from Salt Lake City but lived in the New England area is a brunette with a singularly handsome little head and she has draped herself in an old Japanese robe of silvery grey, the background being some stuff in a Japanese design of the same general tone as the robe.  Miss Rambova makes a more brilliant figure, seated in three quarter length in a rich, pale golden robe with a black border.  She wears a golden turban of the true Indian mode and around her neck is a band of golden ornament that would be barbaric if it were not so sophisticated.  The lovely face gleams amidst all these golden tones with an intelligence and a charm that almost dims these auriferous surfaces. 

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1928 – Natacha Rambova, 310 Riverside Drive, Masters Apartments Building, NYC

The year was 1928, which seen Natacha Rambova take life in a different direction by relocating back to the East Coast and make a clean break from her former life in Los Angeles. Natacha beliefs in automatic writing and Spiritualism grew and she became an expert on metaphysical teachings. During this time, Natacha also became a famous dress designer with a studio on 5th Avenue she became an established artist who immersed herself with the arts movement of the times. Natacha built a network of bohemian friends writer Talbot Mundy, his wife Dawn Allen, and spiritualist George Wehner who all were attendees at her weekly séances. In 1929, after a trip from Europe Natacha convinced all three to rent rooms at the Master Apartments Building. The skyscraper’s first three floors originally held the Roerich Museum, the Master Institute of United Arts, and the Corona Mundi International Center of Art. These three organizations were inspired by Russian artist and mystic Nicholas Roerich and his wife Helena, and were largely funded by a wealthy financier, Louis L. Horch. But it was the upper-floor penthouse which was used for private gatherings and occult explorations. It was here that Natacha’s circle of friends grew to include Manly P. Hall a famous follower of Madame Blavatsky was a regular participant of lectures and classes he gave at the museum that was attend by Natacha, Talbot Mundy and the Roerich’s. In 1928, Natacha became intimately involved and “unofficially engaged” to Svetoslav Roerich the son of Nicholas Roerich. It is interesting to note that Svetoslav looked allot like Natacha’s former husband Rudolph Valentino. This engagement did not sit well with Svetoslav’s father who decided to send his son to the Himalayas on an expedition. Natacha became very angry and threaten to sue for “alienation of affection”. Eventually Natacha moved on. After the end of World War II seen Natacha dump her belief in automatic writing and spiritualism for yoga and scholarly archeological pursuits. Natacha Rambova’s mother a Theosophist who regarded herself as a spiritualist trendsetter have Natacha’s friend Manly P. Hall a large commissioned portrait of a Russian sphinx that belonged to Madame Blavatsky and hung in her séance room at her French chateau Juan les-Pins for years.

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sketch of natacha.

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1931 – Natacha Rambova Painting by Svetoslav Roerich (Former Fiancee)


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1917- 1939 The Romantic Life of Natacha Rambova

When conducting research for this article, I found there is still a great deal of undiscovered information that exists on Natacha Rambova. After all these years, there seems to be certain elements out there that do not want or like bringing things she has done in her past to light. Of course, this causes me to wonder what more intrigue is out there that she caused. Through reading what I can find on the Internet we all know she was not a people person. But a woman who knew what she wanted and went after it. One major discovery I noticed was Natacha was attracted to a certain type of man. Looking at pictures of Theodore Kosloff, Rudolph Valentino, Svetoslav Roerich, and Alvaro de Urzdiz all former lovers or husbands they all do seem to have similar features in face and temperament.

In 1917, the first relationship of Natacha Rambova was when she 18 years old. Natacha while studying ballet pursued her dance instructor. Theodore Kosloff, 32 years old, married and with a child. Eventually, she would discover that what started out as a grand passion one of mutual similarities the relationship was not what she thought it would be. Theodore Kosloff used Natacha’s talent as a designer and took credit for her designs. This was an abusive relationship from beginning to end.

In 1921, Natacha met her next relationship Rudolph Valentino who eventually became her first husband while working on the movie set of Unchartered Seas. From the beginning of this relationship until the very end Natacha assumed the dominant role. This relationship was totally different from her previous one. What started out as a satisfactory and mutual relationship this was not one of an equal partnership. Natacha cheated on Rudolph with a cameraman from her movie set on What Price Beauty that she was producing. In 1926, this relationship ended sadly in a divorce.

In 1928, Natacha Rambova met her next relationship; his name was Svetoslav Roerich in New York City. From research, they both lived in the same building, had close friends, some of whom also lived in the building. They share strong interests in esoteric teachings and even planned a school of esoteric teaching that was intended to teach all the important esoteric teachings of the world. They had a joint project with the organization of the Museum of religion and philosophy. Svetoslav Roerich was the President of this Museum and Natacha Rambova was Secretary-Treasurer. In 1929, I believe they became engaged to be married. In 1931, there was an upset to the engagement. Svetoslav was summed back to India by his father who did not want this marriage to take place. Natacha had threatened to sue Svetoslav for breach of promise. Svetoslav eventually married someone else.


In 1934, Natacha Rambova met her second husband his name was Alvaro de Urzaiz in Egypt. Alvaro was a British educated descendent of a noble Basque family from Spain. They were secretly married in a civil ceremony in Paris but in deference to the wishes of his family they were married in a Catholic ceremony at the Cathedral of San Francisco, Palma Majorca. This relationship had similarities to her previous ones. However, Natacha and her husband moved to Majorca where she had property. They lived here during the Spanish Civil War both Natacha and her second husband began a business of buying up old villas and modernizing them for tourists. This was financed from an inheritance she received from her step-father. Although there is not a lot of information about this relationship I did find out that Alvardo was on the pro-fascist side while Natacha was on the opposite side. Natacha fled to Nice, France where she suffered a heart attack at the age of 40 years. In 1939, she divorced her second husband.

In summary, Natacha Rambova was a modern woman who lived in a male chauvinistic world. Natacha lived her life on her own terms oftentimes selfish and self absorbing without regrets. However those choices that she made had some devastating effects on some people that she had relationships with.

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