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Nicolaas Warb, born Sophia Warburg, was a Dutch-born artist (1906-1957) renowned for her distinctive style of abstract painting recognised by a distinct rhythm of lines and bold colours. 

After completing her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam, she worked at Metz&Co/Liberty to support herself. It was during this time that she became acquainted with the vibrant fabric designs of Sonia Delaunay, who had been commissioned by the firm. Delaunay's work greatly influenced Warb's artistic vision.

In April 1929, Warb went on a one-way journey to Paris, where she enrolled in the academies of Montparnasse. She swiftly found her place in the Parisian art scene. Her friend, a Dutch artist Kees van Dongen introduced her to several Parisian fashion houses, where she got work as a stylist.

It was her encounter with the Belgian artist Georges Vantongerloo in 1939 that reignited her passion for painting. Vantongerloo's influence led her towards complete abstraction, greatly inspired by the De Stijl movement. During this period, she delved into Goethe's theory of colour perception, sharing his belief that colours influence emotions and sensations. 

In 1930, Warb penned a manifesto titled "Perspectives and Thoughts on Abstract Painting," stating avant-garde art's capacity to uplift individuals morally and spiritually.

In 1942, Warb married the painter Francis Nicolas. Due to her belief that women artists were not taken as seriously by art critics, she adopted her husband's surname and shortened her own, hence becoming known as Nicolaas Warb.

Warb was an active member of Groupe Espace and the Société Réalités Nouvelles, where she participated annually from its beginning in 1946 and exhibited there alongside Gleizes, Picabia, de Staël and Herbin among others. 

She held two solo exhibitions in Paris, one at Galerie Greuze in 1947 and another at Galerie Colette Allendy in 1954. Warb also participated in collective exhibitions of abstract art in France and abroad, including The Netherlands and Italy.

Following her passing, a posthumous exhibition of her art was held at Galerie Maria de Beyrie in 1974. The same year Warb's works were featured in the exhibition "Abstraction-Creation, Non-Figurative Art" at the MOMA in New York. In 2005, two of her pieces were displayed in the exhibition "Aspects of Abstraction" at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. 

Warb's works are kept in renowned institutions such as the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the MAM in Paris and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. 

Nicolaas Warb biography


Amsterdam, Netherlands


Hilversum, Netherlands



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