Xavier de Callataÿ, a Belgian-born metallurgist-turned-artist whose paintings included a celebrated series depicting New Orleans jazzmen, died Dec. 27 of brain cancer in Brussels.
He was 66 and had lived in New York City since the mid-1970s.
Mr. de Callataÿ, a baron in his native country, specialized in representational art.
"Xavier was a great draftsman, and his works were truly beautiful," said William Fagaly, an assistant director of the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Mr. de Callataÿ lived in New Orleans in the late 1950s and early 1970s, said Alexandra Monett, his former wife. In addition to jazz musicians, his local subjects included a series of huge murals for the walls of the Greater New Orleans Tourist and Convention Commission when its office was at Royal and Conti streets.
Those works became a cause celebre in the mid-1980s when it was announced that they were to be replaced when the Police Department took over the building. "Everybody got up in a lather over it," Fagaly said. "Somebody contacted him, and he said he didn't consider them original drawings. It was kind of a nonissue."
A native of Brussels, Mr. de Callataÿ earned a degree with honors in metallurgical engineering at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts there and earned a master's degree at the University of Utah.
With his metalworking skills, he got a job in Utah with a team building rocket nose cones, Monett said. But he didn't like the destruction involved in the project, she said. To raise money to leave, he did portraits of his friends and sold them.
"He came to New Orleans, and that was that," she said. "He was an artist."
After starting at Jackson Square, Mr. de Callataÿ was judged good enough for gallery shows, she said.
Among his first works to attract attention was a series of pictures of Preservation Hall musicians, said Dotty Coleman, owner of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, where Mr. de Callataÿ taught.
Equally adept at portraits and landscapes, he "had a realistic style, but in a romantic kind of way," she said.
While in New Orleans, he designed sets for Puppet Playhouse, People Playhouse and Gallery Circle Theatre.
In New York City, where Mr. de Callataÿ was director of studies at the New York Graduate School of figurative Art from 1982 to 1990, he helped design the "Discover Dinosaurs" exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan.
His works were shown in galleries in New Orleans, New York City and Florida. Besides private collections, his paintings are found in the collections of Tulane University, the Union League Club of New York City, the Chester Dale Collection in Washington, D.C., and the Palais de la Nation in Brussels.
His last New Orleans show, in January 1994, was at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Called "Symphony for Christine," it consisted of four mural-size paintings honoring a New Orleans friend who worked with Mother Teresa's religious order and committed suicide when she was 32.
"It was a very personal thing for him," Fagaly said.
Last year, Coleman said, Mr. de Callataÿ was en route to Venice to do a series of paintings to illustrate a friend's book when he became ill. Doctors found a brain tumor that turned out to be malignant.
Survivors include his wife, Gabrielle Paulin of Vienna; a daughter, Alice de Callataÿ of New York City; three brothers, Armand, Damien and Guy de Callataÿ, all of Brussels; and two sisters, Marie-Claire Henry de Generet and Baroness Christine de Jamblinne de Meux, both of Brussels.
A local memorial service will be held Feb. 11, his birthday, at Audubon Zoo. Monett, the owner of Galerie Lafitte, is in charge of arrangements, which are incomplete.