Georges de La Tour

Georges de La Tour canvas prints & artprints

Georges de La Tour, a French painter born in 1593 and died in 1652, is known for his canvases imbued with realism and mystery. Inspired by religious themes such as Saints John, Jerome, Joseph, Peter and James, among others, he created paintings that captivate art lovers with their masterful use of chiaroscuro. Often compared to Caravaggio or the Flemish artists of the Utrecht school, Georges de La Tour developed a unique style of his own, illustrating everyday life and religion with striking precision.

Discover the most famous canvases by the painter from Lorraine, with "Le Tricheur" (1638 - Musée du Louvre, Paris), the artist's undisputed masterpiece, "L'enfant Nouveau-né" (1645 - Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes), one of his many religious canvases, and "La diseuse de bonne aventure" (1630 - Metropolitan Museum of Art), a genre scene, a style that Georges de La Tour favoured throughout his career.

Give yourself a page from art history with a reproduction of Georges de La Tour available in the catalogue, one of the most talented Baroque artists of his generation, and discover his biography.


Biography of Georges de La Tour


The origins and training of Georges de La Tour


Born in Lorraine, in Vic-sur-Seille, in 1593, Georges de La Tour was born into a family whose father, Jean de La Tour Boullengier, and mother Sibylle Molian each came from a family of bakers, a far cry from the painting that would punctuate their son's life.


Few details of the young Lorraine painter's training have survived to the present day. However, the influence of Flemish painters such as Hendrick ter Brugghen or Gerrit van Honthorst, as well as paintings by Caravaggio and the Nancy painter Jacques Bellange, are all elements that undoubtedly trained Georges de La Tour in genre scenes and the use of the chiaroscuro technique in his paintings. Although he undoubtedly did not make any major trips to Italy or the Netherlands during his youth, as was customary at the time for European artists, Duke Henri II of Lorraine's attraction to the arts probably led Georges de La Tour to be confronted with the canvases of the greatest European masters, who thus enjoyed an unprecedented exhibition in the region.


The early successes and recognition of Georges de La Tour


At the age of 24, Georges de La Tour married Diane Le Nerf, an heiress from a noble family in Lunéville, the most important town in the region along with Nancy in the early 17th century. Georges de La Tour and his wife then left Vic-sur-Seille, and moved to Lunéville, where the painter quickly acquired a degree of fame, and was acclaimed by the entire bourgeoisie of the region, including Duke Henri II, who regularly commissioned his work, the latter being particularly receptive to the young artist's Caravaggesque style.

Georges de La Tour then went on to produce religious paintings and genre scenes, such as his oil on canvas "La diseuse de bonne aventure" (1630 - Metropolitan Museum of Art), one of a number of genre scenes depicting musicians, artists and other beggars, or his painting of "Saint Jérôme pénitent" (1628 - Musée de Grenoble), part of a whole series of religious paintings produced between 1620 and 1630.

Despite his success and the wealth that propelled him to the rank of bourgeois, Georges de La Tour was forced to leave Lunéville immediately for Nancy when the battles of the Thirty Years' War destroyed the town in 1638. However, he was no less successful in his new town, and continued to paint his favourite themes, producing around 1640 a series depicting Marie la Magdaléenne, with "La Madeleine pénitente à la flamme filante" (The Penitent Magdalene with a Shooting Flame) (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), "La Madeleine pénitente à la veilleuse" (Musée du Louvre, Paris), the one with the mirror (National Gallery of Art, Washington), or "La Madeleine pénitente aux deux flammes" (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).


Move to Paris and consecration for Georges de La Tour


By the 1640s, George de La Tour's work and reputation had reached the ears of Louis XIII, King of France, who had great respect for artists from Lorraine. The French painter was promoted to "peintre ordinaire du roi" in 1639, and left Nancy to settle in Paris at the same time, probably at the Louvre, where many of his works are on display today, including his famous oil on canvas of "Le Tricheur à l'as de carreau" (1638), a genre scene considered to be one of his masterpieces. In particular, he painted a canvas of "Saint-Sébastien soigné par Irène" for the king, and drew inspiration from Parisian artistic life to perfect his art.

However, this page in the painter's life did not make him forget his native Lorraine, and he immediately returned to Lunéville as soon as the town was rebuilt. He then produced numerous nocturnal paintings, which to this day make Georges de La Tour one of the greatest specialists in the mastery of light.


The last years of Georges de La Tour


Returning to Lunéville, and his art enjoying a certain celebrity in the Duchy of Lorraine, but also in the kingdom of France, Georges de La Tour continued to produce series of canvases, gradually abandoning genre scenes to devote himself almost entirely to religious painting. Saint Peter, Saint Jerome, Madeleine, and Saint Joseph were undoubtedly the figures he depicted the most until his death.

His wife died of pleurisy in 1652, and Georges de La Tour died a few days later from the same illness, leaving behind a particularly extensive body of work, but rarely signed, which contributed to his oblivion, despite a reputation confirmed by the writings of the time.


The artistic legacy of Georges de La Tour


Georges de La Tour had a considerable impact on the history of the arts. His role in the development of chiaroscuro in religious painting and genre scenes marked a major turning point in the artistic expression of his time, and the artist from Lorraine is often compared to other masters in the field, such as Dutch or Spanish artists, with whom he was confused for many years after his death. His paintings, such as "Le Tricheur à l'as de carreau" (1638 - The Louvre in Paris) or his painting "L'enfant Nouveau-né" (1645 - Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes), are masterpieces that showcase his mastery of light and shadow.

Unfortunately, after his death, Georges de La Tour's work fell into oblivion, and it was not until the early 20th century that his talent was rediscovered by the historian Hermann Voss, and the French artist was appreciated for his true worth. It was during this period that many works were attributed to him, and museums then began to exhibit his paintings, revealing the beauty of his artistic legacy.

Today, Georges de La Tour is considered one of the masters of classical and baroque painting. His works, frequently featuring religious figures such as Saint John the Baptist, Saint Jerome and Saint James, are admired for their striking realism and masterful use of chiaroscuro. His unique style, influenced by Caravaggio, followed in the footsteps of the great chiaroscuro painters of the 17th century, and showed the way for many artists who followed in his footsteps.


His paintings today continue to inspire and amaze art lovers the world over, and thanks to his rediscovery, he has regained his rightful place in art history and is now celebrated as one of the greatest artists of his time.


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