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L’Eclair [Flash of Lightning]
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2015

Reference URL

L’Eclair [Flash of Lightning] 1946

Not on display

De Staël’s work of the late 1940s is characterised by abstract criss-cross marks. Densely packed and paint-encrusted blocks of colour contrast with the smooth application of paint in the artist’s later work. Made at a time when de Staël was struggling to develop a personal style, it is likely that the title was chosen after the painting was completed, rather than it being a representation of lightning. Although the dramatic clash of diagonals suggests conflict, there is still harmony in the work through the use of red accents to complement the palette of greens. The textured surface and tangled web of lines reflect the problematic nature of making art after the horrors of the Second World War – an issue tackled by many artists, such as Giacometti with his stick-thin figurative sculptures.

Glossary Open

Abstract art

Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.

Figurative art

A general term for art that refers to the real, visible world, used more specifically for the representation of the human figure.


A hand-held board on which a painter lays out and mixes the colours he or she is using. By extension it is used to describe the range of colours employed by an artist.

Abstract art, Figurative art, Palette


  • Acc. No. GMA 2795
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 115.50 x 89.00 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1983