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Details & Cataloguing

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Nicolas de Staël
1914 - 1955
COMPOSITION
signed Staël and dated 44 lower left
oil on canvas
100 x 65,5 cm; 39 3/8 x 25 9/16 in.
Painted in 1944. 
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Provenance

Jeanne Bucher Collection, Paris
Private Collection, Paris (acquired in 1945 and thence by descent)
Christie's, London, 29 June 2011, Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Auction, lot 239
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Literature

Roger van Gindertael, Nicolas de Staël, Paris, 1950, p. 9
Jacques Dubourg & Françoise de Staël, Nicolas de Staël, Catalogue Raisonné des peintures, Paris, 1968, no. 15, illustrated, p. 61
Jean-Pierre Jouffroy, La Mesure de Nicolas de Staël, Neuchâtel, 1981, no. 33, illustrated in colour, p. 84
Françoise de Staël, Nicolas de Staël, Catalogue Raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Neuchâtel1997, no. 33, illustrated, p. 189

Catalogue Note

During the year 1944, Georges Braque regularly invited Nicolas de Staël, trying his best to help the young painter he considered exceptionally talented but who was freezing and starving to death in his mansion of rue Nollet, which Laurent Greilsamer admirably depicted in his biography of the artist entitled Le Prince Foudroyé: "A strange atmosphere of tragedy exudes from this string of empty rooms: on the ground floor, several have become unusable. Nicolas collects his kindling from the floorings and libraries. There is very little left of the connecting doors. In the kitchen, several big piles of dirty plates are precariously balanced on an occasional table. Woodworks are encrusted with smells of cold tobacco and turpentine. In the garden, only two or three trees, with their dark bare arms, sadly stripe the horizon."

Proud, generous, dashing and hardworking, Staël, on the edge of the abyss and torn apart by critics -"amateurs, afraid of his paintings, call it mud, car accidents!" (Jacques Laval, Un homme partagé)- keeps painting with passion. With its dense and charged palette of colors, its light spreading from the canvas as if through a fragment of stained glass, its entanglements and material growing thicker and ticker, Composition, 1944, is a vibrant and unique testimony of the work of the artist, unanimously recognized as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century.

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It takes a lot of work: a ton of passion and a hundred grams of patience. 
Nicolas de Staël, Lettre à Jean Adrian, Paris 1945

Modernités

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Paris