Nicolas De Stael was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1914, to a high-ranking military family. The artist’s family was forced to flee Russia in 1919, and as an adult De Stael later relocated to Nice, France, where he began to produce art alongside numerous contemporaries. The artist is best known for his heavy application of paint and highly abstracted landscapes, though he worked in a variety of media.
De Stael’s studio looks rather austere in this photo. There are a lot of paintings -- maybe finished, maybe in-progress -- hanging from the wall behind the artist, and piled on the floor, but it looks as though the room has quite high ceilings, and much of the space is bare. I’m curious about the pile of what looks like firewood in the foreground on the left hand side of the image. Was there a fireplace in the studio space, or was De Stael planning on using the logs for some artwork?
There’s a lamp pictured in front of the artist as well, though at its low position I’m not certain what it’s meant to illuminate. The backpack, as well, gives off the impression that De Stael has just arrived in his studio, or is about to leave on a lengthy trek back home. It lends an interesting atmosphere to the studio overall.
During his time in France, De Stael met and befriended other prolific artists including Jean Arp and Georges Braque. He had several solo exhibitions during the later years of WWII, and achieved some recognition. The artist sadly took his own life in 1955, at the age of 41.