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La Tour, Georges de

Vic-sur-Seille, 1593 - Luneville, 30/01/1652

The artist was born in a small town in the Duchy of Lorraine, an independent territory in the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, a century and a half before it became part of France. A baker's son, he is documented for the first time in 1616. In 1617 he married the daughter of Jean Le Nerf, silversmith to the reigning duke. One of his sons was Etienne de La Tour, also a painter, who assisted him in the family workshop. In 1620 he established himself in Luneville and began to sell paintings to Duke Henry II in 1623. He also worked for the nobility and religious institutions of the region. It is known that he was in Paris in 1639 and that he was awarded the title of "ordinary painter to the king", which involved the protection of Louis XIII of France. He received many commissions from the municipality of Luneville and was apparently an arrogant and violent natured man. Nothing is known about his training; certain critics believe he must have spent time in Rome between 1610 and 1616, though there is no evidence to support this. His name and works gradually disappeared from collections following his death and he faded from memory, only to be rediscovered during the 20th century. Recent research has restored him to a very distinguished place in the broad 17th-century international painting scene, particularly that of the French school. It is interesting to note that there is a description of a work by him in the collection of Goya's friend Sebastián Martínez in Cádiz, Spain. It is found in the well-known travel book of Nicolás de la Cruz, Count of Maule (1813); given the rarity of the existence of a signature and the theme, this was a genuine work by the painter, though its whereabouts is now unknown. La Tour's works display admirable effects of light and shadow, reflect the world of the common folk of his time and religious matters with a naturalistic treatment imbued with poetry and personal interpretations of traditional themes, and constitute an outstanding contribution to artistic expression of the first half of the 17th century. Various monographic exhibitions all over the world have kindled interest in his life and oeuvre, which are becoming increasingly well known, in pace with the gradual discovery of new documents and paintings that shed light on this multifaceted artist with a powerful personality who was well considered in his own day (Luna, J. J.: From Titian to Goya. Great Masters of the Museo del Prado, National Art Museum of China-Shanghai Museum, 2007, p. 389).

Artworks (1)

A Blind Hurdy-Gurdy Player
Oil on canvas, 1620 - 1630
La Tour, Georges de

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