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    Sale 7602

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

    30 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 44

    Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955)

    Image à froid

    Price Realised  


    Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955)
    Image à froid
    signed and dated 'Staël 47' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    57½ x 44 7/8in. (146 x 114cm.)
    Painted in 1947

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    Painted in 1947, Image à froid is one of the masterpieces from Nicolas de Staël's period of abstraction, as is reflected in its extensive exhibition history. At the highpoint of his abstract phase, which lasted from 1946 to 1948, de Staël had shed the original influences of Jean Arp and Alberto Magnelli, who had initially prompted him to liberate himself from the figurative and the objective. In Image à froid, he has created an idiosyncratic work, filled with the pulsing rhythm that hints at his profound love of music. Through its swirling maelstrom of paint, with bars and streaks of black on one side and greys and ochres on the other, Image à froid creates the impression of a vortex.

    By amassing this seemingly self-generating agglomeration of abstract forms, de Staël has managed to conjure a sense of pictorial space, of depth, with the red at the centre appearing like the glowing embers of an expressionistic Big Bang that is hurling the paint outwards in a burst of creativity and creation. This notion is made all the more apt by the sensuality of the paint surface, by the tangible quality of its impasto, a legacy of the vigorous application of the oils with a palette knife and other pieces of metal during this period. Image à froid has an almost organic appearance, with the paint, and the painting, appearing to spring organically into existence from some primordial, lava-like centre.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Galerie Louis Carré & Cie, Paris.
    Ragnar Moltzau, Oslo.
    Marlborough Fine Art, London (no. 03386).
    Acquired from the above by The Hon. A. G. Samuel in the 1960s and thence by descent to the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    M. Bourdier, 'Exposition Nicolas de Staël' in Le Courrier graphique, no. 85, April-May 1956, p. 26.
    D. Cooper, 'Nicolas de Staël: In Memoriam' in The Burlington Magazine, no. 638, May 1956, p. 141.
    F. Bridel, 'Le peintre Nicolas de Staël révélé au public suisse' in Tribune de Genève, 21 October 1957, p. 1.
    D. Cooper, Nicolas de Staël, London 1961, no. 13 (illustrated, p. 28).
    D. Grojnowski, 'Nicolas de Staël, description d'un itinéraire' in Critique, no. 234, November 1966, p. 944.
    A. Chastel, Nicolas de Staël, Paris 1968, p. 27.
    J. Dubourg and F. de Staël, Nicolas de Staël: catalogue raisonné des peintures, Paris 1968, no. 117 (illustrated, p. 90).
    F. de Staël, Nicolas de Staël, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Neuchâtel 1997, no. 120 (illustrated, p. 232).


    Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne, Nicolas de Staël 1914-1955, February-April 1956, no. 26 (illustrated, unpaged).
    London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Nicolas de Staël 1914-1955, May-June 1956, no. 10 (illustrated, unpaged).
    Berne, Kunsthalle Bern, Nicolas de Staël, September-October 1957, no. 20 (illustrated, unpaged).
    Arles, Musée Réattu, Nicolas de Staël 1914-1955, June-September 1958, no. 12 (illustrated, unpaged).
    Oslo, Kunstindustriemuseet, The Moltzau Collection, June-August 1961, no. 80.
    Rotterdam, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Verzameling Sir Edward en Lady Hulton, Londen, November 1964-January 1965, no. 13 (illustrated, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Wuppertal, September-October 1964; Frankfurt, Frankfurter Kunstverein, February-March 1965; Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, April-May 1965; Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, June-July 1965; Karlsruhe, Badischer Kunstverein, August 1965; Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum, December 1965-January 1966; Lunds, Konsthall, April-May 1966; Stockholm, Moderna Museet, August 1966; Helsinki, Amos Anderson Konstmuseum, September-October 1966 and Gothenberd, Kunstmuseum, December 1966.
    Zurich, Kunsthaus, Nicolas de Staël, July-September 1965, no. 13 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
    Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Nicolas de Staël 1914-1955, October-November 1965, no. 9 (illustrated in colour, unpaged). This exhibition later travelled to Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, January-February 1966 and New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, February-April 1966.