A monumental work by Nicolas de Staël (1914-55) will be a highlight at Sotheby’s contemporary art evening sale in Paris on June 3. Painted in 1950 Composition measures 200 x 400 cm and is estimated at 2.5-3.5 million euro. It was last shown in public at the Pompidou Centre’s De Staël retrospective in 2003. It was the largest canvas De Staël had ever painted when it was bought by Denys Sutton (1917-91) in 1950. It has remained in Sutton’s family ever since. The British art critic edited Apollo magazine for over 25 years and curated numerous landmark exhibitions devoted to Constable, Picasso, Matisse among others in the 1960’s and ’70’s. Sutton met De Staël in Paris at the end of the 1940’s and convinced him to show his works in England. De Staël duly went to London in the summer of 1950, and wrote about being electrified by the city’s light and space.
The work’s appearance on the market coincides with the centenary of De Staël’s birth. From June to November, two exhibitions – at the Musée Malraux in Le Havre and Musée Picasso in Antibes – will pay tribute to an artist who continues to enjoy great popularity in the United States and throughout Europe, as well as in his adopted France.