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The Museo de Prado and Fundación AXA are presenting the most important exhibition to be held in Spain on Georges de La Tour (1593-1652) Friday, February 19, 2016

The Museo de Prado and Fundación AXA are presenting the most important exhibition to be held in Spain on Georges de La Tour (1593-1652), an artist who was forgotten after his death and was only rediscovered by art historians a hundred years ago. In France, La Tour is considered the most celebrated national artist of the 17th century and one of the most popular in French art of any period, alongside Monet, Renoir and Cézanne.

The present exhibition comprises 31 paintings by La Tour, which is an exceptional number given that only around 40 by his hand survive. They have been loaned from prestigious international institutions such as the Musée du Louvre, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, of which the latter two museums are lending two of the artist’s most essential works, The Fortune Teller and The Cardsharps, respectively. Also fundamental for the organisation of this exhibition has been the generous contribution made by provincial French museums, which house an important number of works by La Tour, as well as the fact that the two recent acquisitions by the Prado of works by the artist (Saint Jerome reading a Letter and The blind Hurdy-gurdy Player) have made the Museum an international reference point for the study of this French painter.

The Museo de Prado and Fundación AXA are presenting the most important exhibition to be held in Spain on Georges de La Tour (1593-1652)

Photo of the press conference.© Museo Nacional del Prado.

On 23 February, the Museo del Prado will be opening the exhibition Georges de La Tour. 1593-1652, on display in Room C of its Jerónimos Building. Sponsored by Fundación AXA, the exhibition will allow visitors to discover La Tour’s artistic personality, expressed through both his realist treatment of humble figures and his refined religious scenes.

A century after the rediscovery of the artist with the publication of the art historian Hermann Voss’s article in the German publication Archiv für Kunstgeschichte, the Museo del Prado has brought together thirty-one of the forty known works by this painter from Lorraine. Prior to his rediscovery in 1915, La Tour’s works were attributed to other northern painters (particularly his night scenes) and to Spanish artists, principally Zurbarán, Ribera and Velázquez. Saint Jerome reading a Letter in the Prado, for example, has an inscription on the reverse reading “Zurbaran”, to whom it was undoubtedly attributed and which probably explains its presence in a Spanish collection.

The present exhibition offers a chronological survey of La Tour’s career, which was directly associated with historical events of his time.

The exhibition

Georges de La Tour has only recently been discovered in terms of his artistic personality. Little is known of his early training in the Catholic city of Vic-sur-Seille in Lorraine (France), which he must have completed around 1610 when he was aged about 17. Subsequent documentation reveals him as a financially successful painter with a brusque personality but professionally renowned. At the end of his career La Tour was appointed painter to Louis XIII.

La Tour lived at a crucial period for the history of Lorraine, which culminated with the loss of the duchy’s political independence. Within this context the artist evolved a painting of surprising lyricism, particularly in his nocturnal scenes, nearly all of them religious. These are almost monochrome works with monumental forms, filled with solitude and silence.

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