Georges de La Tour
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Biography of Georges de La TourFrench Baroque artist
The name was often spelled as George La Tour, George tour, Georges La Tour, Georges de Latour, George Latour, George de Latour, Georges Latour.
born 1593 - died 1652
Georges de La Tour was born on March 13, 1593 in the town of Vic-upon-Seille, in Lorraine. His baptism document indicates that he was the son of Jean de La Tour, baker, and Sybille de La Tour, née Molian (or Malian). All Sybille’s parents and siblings were bakers. Jean’s father was a mason, but he, however, had chosen the profession of his wife’s relatives. Jean and Sybille had 7 children, Georges de La Tour was the second one, the children grew in the wealthy surroundings of well-to-do artisans.
Where was George formed and what was his education, where did he spend his youth? Maybe in Vic itself, where the
Swiss painter Claude Dogoz lived, or maybe at Nance, at the studio of Jacques Bellange (died in 1616).
Maybe Georges de La Tour traveled further from his house, even to Italy, but there is no evidence of it. We do not know where and who trained
him. But there's evidence that young George had friends in the court of the Duke of Lorraine. In 1617, at the age of 24, Georges
de La Tour married Diane Le Nerf, who was born in 1591 into an ennobled family: her father, Jean Le Nerf, was the treasurer of the Duke of
Lorraine and lived in Lunéville. The young couple settled in Vic in the parental house.
In 1619, their first son, Philippe, was born, and the next year the family moved to Lunéville. The same, 1620, year the 27-year old La Tour was apprenticed to Claude Baccarat. It is known that around 1621-23 the Duke bought a painting by Georges de La Tour, and another one in 1624, St. Peter, which the artist donated to decorate the church of the convent of Minimes. The same year the Duke died; with his death, military confrontations for the domination of Lorraine started among the European monarchs.
In 1639, Georges de La Tour was in Paris by the king's order. The King presented him with 1000 francs for some service (what kind of service it was, is unknown). Though from now on he was referred to as ‘Sir George de la Tour, painter of his majesty’. In 1645, the king appointed one Henri de La Ferté-Senneterre the governor of Lorraine. The new governor loved art. He immediately established good relations with La Tour and became his patron. He commissioned from the artist The Adoration of the Shepherds. And later he bought many Georges de La Tour paintings, among others were: The Discovery of the Body of St. Alexis, St. Sebastian with Lantern.
On January 15, 1652 La Tour’s wife, Diane, died. Soon after her, on January 30, La Tour died, deeply depressed.
|In his lifetime he must have been one of the most admired painters. Not many of La Tour paintings survived, and these can be divided into his early ‘day pieces’, and the later ‘night pieces’. But both attributions (he only rarely signed Georges de La Tour painting) and chronological order remain questionable. To 1620-1630 belong Porridge Eaters, a row of Hurdy-Gurdy Players. The brutal realism, unflattering presentation of the miserable subjects does not at all mean a sympathetic attitude to the socially disadvantaged of the day, on the contrary, issues of this kind were intended to amuse high society, who enjoyed decorating the walls of their patrician homes with such melodramatic scenes.|
Another modern topic of the day, made popular by Caravaggio, is also present in Georges de La Tour paintings. The Card-Sharp with the Ace of
Diamonds, The Card-Sharp with the Ace of Clubs, and The Fortune-Teller, compare to
Carravaggio The Cardsharps (I Bari), The
Fortune-Teller . An inexperienced, wealthy and opulently dressed young man is being cheated at cards in the dubious company of a
courtesan with her lover and a servant girl. Wine and the promise of erotic adventure have made the young dandy so light-headed
that Georges de La Tour does not notice the unsubtle trick of an ace being drawn from his opponent's belt. Such depictions belonged to the
Most of the canvases by the French Baroque painter we have at our disposal the art historians date after 1640. In these Georges de La Tour paintings he is captivated with lightning effects, which do not create blurred forms but sharp contours instead. Repenting Magdalene, St. Joseph, the Carpenter. This fascination with light brought him great success in his day. However, Georges de La Tour was completely forgotten after his death, only to be rediscovered in our own day.
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