Advertisements

Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Georges de La Tour

Georges de La Tour

Georges de La Tour

Georges de La Tour (1593 – 1652) was a French Baroque painter, who spent most of his working life in the Duchy of Lorraine, which was absorbed into France between 1641 and 1648. He painted mostly religious scenes lit by candlelight and specialised in Chiaroscuro compositions, using sharp contrasts between light and dark.

Georges de La Tour often painted several variations on the same subjects, also, his son Étienne was his pupil, and distinguishing between their work in versions of La Tour’s compositions is difficult. There are no known images of Georges de La Tour, but the unknown figure in the painting above of “The Blower with the Pipe” by Georges de La Tour, exists in nine different versions of this composition; thus we have chosen this portrait to represent the unknown image of Georges de La Tour.

After his death in 1652, La Tour’s work was forgotten until rediscovered in the early 1900s. Some of La Tour’s work had been confused with Vermeer when the Dutch artist underwent his own rediscovery in the nineteenth century.

A Tour of Georges de La Tour’s Art

  • Magdalene with the Smoking Flame
    • “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” by Georges de La Tour depicts Mary Magdalene and was inspired by several themes popular with artists during the 1600s, such as the cult of Magdalene, melancholy and repentance. De La Tour, the French Baroque painter who painted this masterpiece in 1640, has given it a feeling of philosophical meditation that provides the opportunity for meditation and reflection. Mary Magdalene’s body is enveloped in mysterious darkness, and her face brightened only by the candle. On her knees is a skull and on the table are some books and a lit candle wick floating in a glass of oil. There is also a wooden cross and a blood-stained scourge. The skull represents a play on words, representing Golgotha, the place of Christ’s crucifixion as well as the Aramaic word for skull. All the objects in this painting are references to the themes of the repentance and the trials sent by God. Museum: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Louvre
  • The Fortune Teller
    • “The Fortune Teller” by Georges de La Tour was painted in 1630 and re-discovered in 1960. The painting catches a moment where a young man of wealth is having his fortune told by the older woman at right. The fortune teller takes the coin from his hand, not only in payment but as part of the ritual in which she will cross his hand with it. Most of the women portrayed are gipsies and after the stereotype of the time; they are depicted as thieves. As the young man is engrossed in the fortune-telling, the woman on the left is stealing the coin purse from his pocket, while her companion in profile has a hand ready to take the purse. The girl on the boy’s left is also in on the conspiracy as she cuts a medal worn by the boy from its chain. The painting’s authenticity has been questioned but is now accepted by the MET as La Tour’s work. Georges de La Tour is better known for his religious compositions, in which the figures are illuminated by a single light source and lack the elaborate costume detail of The Fortune Teller’s characters. The painting was discovered in a French castle at about 1949, and because there was doubt about its authenticity, it remained with an art dealer until purchased by the MET in 1960. How the painting left France became a matter of controversy in the French press in the 1960s. Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Georges de La Tour

  • Artist:                       Georges de La Tour
  • Born:                         1593 – Vic-sur-Seille, Diocese of Metz
  • Died:                         1652 – Lunéville, France.
  • Nationality:               French
  • Movement:               Baroque
  • Notable Works:

A Tour of Artists

Reflections

  • The influence of Caravaggio is evident in the dramatic lighting and the contrast of colour.

~~~

“Fortune-telling doesn’t reveal the future; it mirrors the present.
It resonates against what your subconscious already knows
and hauls it up out of the darkness so you can get a good look at it.”

– Charles de Lint

~~~


Photo Credit: 1)Georges de La Tour [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Advertisements