How did the artist Nicolas de Staël die?

The artist Nicolas de Staël jumped to his death from the roof of his studio building in Antibes, France, on 16 March 1955 at the age of 41. Shortly before his death, the painter created the work Les Mouettes (1955, private collection).

In the years leading up to his death, Nicolas de Staël produced numerous works of modern art. The artist’s style and technique greatly evolved during this period. In a departure from the impasto technique—thick strokes of paint applied with a knife—he previously favoured, the artist began using more diluted colours, which he applied to the canvas with cotton or gauze. This artistic transformation baffled some of the artist’s collectors and critics. Discussing the matter, the painter said: “I am worried about the difference in light, the light from Antibes to Paris. It could be that the paintings do not have the same resonance in Paris that they have in my studio in Antibes. It is a great source of anxiety.” In 1955 , Nicolas De Staël painted the work Les Mouettes in a tribute to the painter Vincent van Gogh—also a tormented figure, the latter painted Wheatfield with Crows just before ending his life. Inspired by the world of music, Nicolas de Staël painted Le Concert—the painter’s final work—on a monumental six-metre canvas. Tormented by the critics and his deteriorating relationship with Jeanne, the anxious artist painted the huge work with a restless energy. The masterpiece is now housed at the Musée Picasso in Antibes.

Please visit the painter Nicolas de Staël’s dedicated page to learn more about the artist’s work and paintings.

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