Composition was made at a pivotal point in de Staël's career. Jeannine Guillou, his partner of many years, died in 1946, the year of this painting. An artist herself, she was a vital support to de Staël, particularly in his artistic practice. As well as dealing with her loss, he was in severe financial difficulty. These factors are clearly visible in this work, which marks the artist's consolidation of his now signature brooding abstract style. Despite his penury, he spent what he had on vast quantities of paint to create the thick impasto and vigorously worked texture visible in Composition. Here, the dark, oily texture of much of the paint surface is a direct appeal to the senses, appearing less as a formal painting and more as a fantastical plane in which the raw inspiration of the artist has been played out.
As with many fellow thinkers, writers and artists at the time, de Staëls's painting appeared to be responding to the existential angst that was the focus of intellectual life in post-war France. His response is to remove the mind of the artist as far as possible from the creation of the work. With the plasticity and sensuality of this painting, de Staël communicates the idea that Composition exists not only as a picture, but as a presence in its own right, almost an organic entity. In this new development of his abstraction, the former rigidity and artifice of composition in his paintings gives way to the far freer build-up of paint. De Staël succeeded in capturing something not merely through shapes and colours but through form, both in terms of the composition and the texture. The artist's new direction led to a contract with the renowned dealer Louis Carré and a collaboration with the famous nineteenth century and Impressionist dealer, Jacques Dubourg, so 1946 marked the beginning of his recognition as a painter.