A French painter of the 17th-century, Georges De La Tour was a master at capturing candle light. His extraordinary vision added a new dimension to painting by transforming light into a real color. His acute eye for detail, coupled with his ability to replicate the simplicity within a scene, was unmatched by any other artist of his time. A follower of Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro and tenebristic techniques, he helped pave the way for Impressionism.
The French painter Georges de la Tour was born as the son of the master baker Jean de la Tour and Sibylle Mélian in Vic-sur-Seille, Lorraine in 1593. Georges de la Tour was the second of seven children of a simple family of craftspeople. In 1618 Georges de la Tour married Diane Le Nerf, the daughter of the duke of Lorraine's financial administrator in the small Lorraine town of Lunéville.
La Tour was a good and ambitious businessman, who soon became famous and wealthy and had a large workshop with numerous assistants. In 1623 Duke Heinrich II of Lorraine, who lived in Lunéville, bought a picture of "St. Peter" from La Tour. La Tour fathered at least 10 children. During the 1630s pestilence and war haunted the Lorraine region and the soldiers of Louis XIII ravaged the country.
When, in 1638, the city of Lorraine went up in flames, most of Georges de la Tour's early works were probably destroyed in the fire. In 1639 La Tour was mentioned as the official painter of Louis XIII in a deed ("peintre ordinaire du Roy"), so he must have been staying in Paris at the time.
In 1643 the painter Georges de la Tour was back in Lunéville and his son Etienne entered his workshop. In 1644 La Tour was already considered a "peintre fameux" and by the end of the year he had produced the first of a series of paintings depicting mainly religious content, which the town presented to the Lorraine governor, Marshall de La Ferté each year as a gift for his collection.
Influenced by the painter Caravaggio, Georges de la Tour produced genre paintings of mythological and religious scenes. La Tour became most famous for his night pieces. Georges de la Tour often painted his pictures with artificial lighting and employed a high-contrast chiaroscuro effect.
Georges de la Tour is one of the artists who were only rediscovered in the 20th century. His now established oeuvre comprises little more than 20 pictures, but these are of such high quality and intensity that he has become one of the most important French painters of the 17th century. He is one of the most important exponents of French Caravaggism.
Georges De La Tour died in Lunéville on January 30th 1652, at 59 years of age. He remained totally forgotten until the early 20th century when he was rediscovered by a German scholar in 1915.