Georges de La Tour

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La Tour, Georges de

(zhôrzh də lä to͞or), 1593–1652, French painter. By 1618 he was settled at Lunéville, in his native Lorraine. He bore the title of painter to the king in 1639. La Tour painted religious and genre pictures, many of which show the influence of Dutch modifications of Caravaggio's style. La Tour's early works (1620s) include The Fortune Teller (Metropolitan Mus.) and St. Jerome (Stockholm), both minutely descriptive. A transitional painting, Job and His Wife (Épinal), is an early example of La Tour's nocturnal scenes, in which forms are dramatically illuminated by a candle or a hidden light source. In his later works (c.1640–1652), La Tour discarded extraneous detail and reduced figures to simple, sculptural forms rendered in warm colors. Characteristic later paintings are Repentant St. Peter (Cleveland Mus.), Christ and St. Joseph in the Carpenter's Shop (Louvre), The Hurdy-Gurdy Player (Nantes), and St. Sebastian Mourned by St. Irene (Berlin). In 1974 the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. purchased his Magdalen of the Mirror for an estimated $1.5 million.

Bibliography

See study by S. M. M. Furness (1949).

La Tour, Georges de

 

Born Mar. 19, 1593, in Vicsur-Seille, Lorraine; died Jan. 30, 1652, in Lunéville, Lorraine. French painter.

La Tour’s style developed under the influence of Caravaggio and the Dutch (Utrecht) Caravaggists. Among his early works were paintings depicting scenes from everyday life, including The Sharper (c. 1625, Landry Collection, Paris) and Catching Fleas (1620’s, Museum of Fine Arts, Nancy). The central emotional element in La Tour’s pictures, which are executed primarily in colors ranging from cinnabar to brown, is the steady radiance of a candle or torch that disperses the gloomy darkness. His religious compositions, characterized by simplification of forms, noble restraint of emotions, and a profoundly contemplative mood, are reminiscent of scenes from everyday life (for example, The Newborn, or The Nativity, c. 1630, Museum of Fine Arts, Rennes; Joseph the Carpenter, 1640’s, Louvre, Paris). La Tour was completely forgotten after his death and was only rediscovered in the early 20th century.

REFERENCES

Nemilova, I. S. Zhorzh de latur. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.
Pariset, F. G. Georges de la Tour. Paris, 1948.
Georges de la Tour, Orangerie de Tuilerie. Exposition, 10 mai-25 septembre 1972. Paris, 1972.
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