Thursday, April 30, 2009

"St. Joseph the Carpenter" by Georges de la Tour

Georges de la Tour was born on March 13, 1593 in the province of Lorraine, which was at that a duchy (independent, ruled by a duke).( bit of history - In 1624, after the Duke's death, and European monarchs began fighting over the duchy and in 1631 Lorraine was taken over by France.) There is not much known about his training or education. He was influenced early on by the works of Caravaggio. What La tour is most known for is his use of light. His paintings usually are set at night with the figure(s) sitting or standing by by a candle. The contrast, known as
chiaroscuro* is striking. The works are simply painted, not dramatic. And the majority of his painting during this second phase of his work are primarily religious.
St. Joseph the Carpenter is a perfect example of the simplicity of La Tour. A son is helping his father by holding the candle so the father can see. But this is no ordinary child. This is Christ. Now look at the wood Joseph is shaping. It is a prefiguration of a cross. And the child Jesus looks on, obediently and accepting.**

The painting below is The Education of the Virgin Like many of La Tour's works, there is a question whether the painting is a copy of his original,one done in his workshop, or possibly painted by his son Etienne. if it is not a Georges de la Tour, it is certainly done in his style.
Georges de la Tour was forgotten by the art world until the 20th century - a german scholar named Hermann Voss rediscovered La Tour in 1915. Some of his work had been mistaken for Vermeer. In 1935 an exhibition of his paintings in Paris began a revival of his works.
*chiaroscuro – the interplay of light and shade in drawing and painting; a work stressing that interplay (Italian chiaro ‘clear, bright’ + oscuro ‘dark, obscure’.)
** This sentence comes from John Rupert Martin's book Baroque
Go to for more of his works.

1 comment:

  1. Laura,
    I saw your comment on FB. Thanks you for your prayers.
    I thought of you (and Constable) in the hospital. In agony, I looked over my shoulder from the bed for visual comfort from the art. It was UGLY paint splashed across canvas : ( If it had been a print by Constable, I could have maybe gone to the Cathedral in my brain. But alas, it's a new mission of mine to get some inspiring prints in the ER.
    They probably wouldn't let the de la Tour on the wall.
    Thanks for posting him.