French painter, born in Russia. Between 1933 and 1936, he studied Architecture, Decoration and Design at the Académie de St Gilles and at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, both in Brussels. Various trips to the Netherlands and France awoke a certain interest for 17th century Dutch painting in him as well as the work of Matisse and Braque. In 1936, he took part in an exhibition, for the first time, in Brussels at the Dietrich Gallery. He visited Algeria and Italy, where he concentrated on the study of Italian art. In 1938, he returned to Paris where he began making copies of the Old Masters, namely Chardin and Delacroix, at the Louvre. In 1940, he moved to Nice where he joined a circle of vanguard artists such as Sonia Delaunay, Hans Arp and Alberto Magnelli, who significantly influenced the direction of his work. He returned Paris and, in 1944, had his first one-man show at the L'Esquisse Gallery. In 1948, he took French nationality and was, for the first time, mentioned in the press. He began producing large scale works, rather similar to those of Serge Poliakoff. In 1950, he exhibited in New York and travelled again to Italy in order to get to know Sicily. This led to a series of canvases on Sicilian landscapes. In 1954, he went to Marseilles and his painting continued to be based on still lifes, nudes and interiors. In managing to show that paintings could be simultaneously abstract and representational, a concern of many artists of the time, Nicolas de Stael occupied a significant position in the art world, exercising a strong influence on French and British artists in particular.