Uncovering the Personal and Professional Influences Behind Nicolas de Staël’s Masterpieces.


Nicolas de Staël, a French artist of Russian origin, led a brief, tumultuous, and ultimately tragic existence. Compelled to leave his homeland due to the revolution, orphaned and socially isolated, De Staël’s romantic nature was hindered by consistent misfortunes in matters of the heart. Regrettably, at the age of , he met a woeful demise when he flung himself out of the window of his studio on the Côte d’Azur after being rejected by the woman who consumed his thoughts. It is this unfortunate culmination of events that has partially contributed to the creation of the De Staël myth, which art connoisseurs bemoan as often overshadowing his remarkable output of over , oil paintings and drawings during his hectic -year career.

Modern Art in Paris. The renowned Beaux Arts, a leading French publication of high repute, has bestowed upon De Staël the revered title of one of the most enigmatic painters of the th century. A forthcoming exhibition, scheduled to inaugurate on Friday at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in Paris, seeks to restore the rightful prominence of De Staël’s art, through an exquisite assemblage comprising masterpieces encompassing paintings, drawings, engravings, and notebooks. Distinguished by their rarity, a significant proportion of these captivating artworks are sourced from private collections, having remained secluded from public view until now. Remarkably, Charlotte Barat-Mabille, one of the astute curators behind this remarkable showcase, confidently affirms that this unparalleled event stands as a monumental testament to the Museum of Modern Art’s rich legacy and artistic grandeur.

The curator, along with her colleagues, meticulously curated a collection of artworks from private collections. These chosen pieces were arranged in a chronological manner, deviating from the thematic format employed in a previous retrospective exhibition held at the Pompidou Centre two decades ago. She emphasized the remarkable fascination of Nicolas de Staël, an artist who produced a significant body of work within a relatively short span of time. Despite the brevity of his career, his productivity remained unparalleled. However, the prevailing myth surrounding his persona tended to overshadow his artistic achievements. For De Staël, the essence lay solely in the act of painting and the perpetual pursuit of novelty within his artworks. It is worth noting that De Staël’s birth name was Nicolaï Vladimirovitch Staël von Holstein.

De Staël, born into a prominent military family residing in the tsar’s court in St. Petersburg (then known as Petrograd), endured the unfortunate fate of exile during the revolution when he was merely three years old. Tragically, his parents passed away shortly thereafter, leaving De Staël and his two sisters under the care of a Russian couple in Belgium. Following his artistic pursuits in Brussels, De Staël embarked on a journey encompassing various regions such as the south of France, Spain, and Morocco. It was during this time that he encountered his first wife, Jeannine, an artist married to another man and with a young son. Remarkably, De Staël managed to convince her to embark on a clandestine union with him. In , he took the significant step of enlisting in the Foreign Legion.

demobilized within a year and returned to Nice, followed by Paris. The couple endured a life of immense destitution, resorting to burn their furniture for mth during the harsh winter months, while De Staël struggled relentlessly to secure a means of sustenance. Throughout this arduous period, they managed to subsist on the income generated from Jeannine’s art sales. Tragically, in , Jeannine succumbed to weakness and malnutrition after terminating a pregnancy that posed a grave threat to her life. Merely three months later, the widowed De Staël found solace in the companionship of Françoise Chapouton, whom he promptly married. Relocating his family to the southern region of France, De Staël embarked on a new chapter in his life.

once again, in the company of Jeanne Polge, a married mother-of-two. Having achieved success in the realm of exhibiting and selling his paintings, De Staël relocated his spouse and offspring to Paris once more, seeking proximity to Jeanne. However, when she adamantly declined to abandon her husband or meet with him, Staël, consumed by fury, hastily concluded his final masterpiece – an immense canvas measuring . meters in height and meters in width entitled Le Grand Concert: L’Orchestre – within a mere three days before tragically ending his own life. Regrettably, the perpetuation of the myth surrounding his tumultuous persona and tragic demise has overshadowed the true appreciation of De Staël’s artistic brilliance. This undue emphasis on his personal struggles has obstructed individuals from beholding the inherent beauty resonating in his works.

What we can learn

In the face of adversity, Nicolas and Jeannine de Staël endured an unforgiving winter, relying on Jeannine’s art sales to sustain themselves. However, their journey took a tragic turn with Jeannine’s untimely passing, leaving Nicolas a widower. Yet, from the depths of despair, a new light emerged as he found solace in the companionship of Françoise Chapouton and began a fresh chapter in his life. Relocating to the scenic south of France, De Staël embarked on a journey of hope and renewal, forever carrying the memories of his beloved wife Jeannine. Thus, their story stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love to overcome even the darkest of times.


Hakan Author

This is my favourite website. I hope it is your favourite too.