The essay "Caravaggio, Vincent van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Georges de la Tour" examines the history of art and focuses on such important artists as Georges de la Tour, Caravaggio, Vincent van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse. The paintings of La Tour's maturity are marked by a startling geometric simplification of the human form and by the depiction of interior scenes lit only by the glare of candles or torches. His religious paintings done in this manner have a monumental simplicity and a stillness that expresses both contemplative quiet and wonder. The chronology and authenticity of some works attributed to him are still debated. Georges de la Tour used two kinds of lighting in his pictures. One was natural lighting, where people were illuminated from above with cool white light--like the painting reproduced with this article. The other kind of lighting he used was for nighttime pictures. They were called "nocturnes." The light for these pictures came from a single source, such as a fire or a candle. Georges de la Tour is considered to be a follower of Caravaggio due to his dependency on specific elements of the Caravaggesque style. Most notably the use of chiaroscuro and tenebristic techniques. In his interpretation of those certain stylistic qualties, however, Georges was unique in his design and composition, and presented an entirely new way of looking at common realistic works of art. Georges de la Tour is classed as a realist. Realist he is in that his subjects, predominantly if not exclusively religious.
, are represented in terms of "real" life, often the life of his own country-town and surroundings in Lorraine. But he avoided naturalism; rather, he chose to simplify, modelling his forms by marked contrasts of light and shade, and using large volumes and severe lines, with great selective economy of detail" (Furness 70, 1996). 2
George de la Tour's attention to mood is a predominant quality that pervades his works. The paintings, especially the night scenes, have an almost meditative or pensive quality about them. Though the subject matter may, at times, be rather ambiguous, the spirituality communicated through the mood diminishes the importance of deciphering what scene we're looking at. Rather, the focus is on the way the painting makes us, as the viewer, feel through simple observation. A visual element that helps the viewer to focus on the scene before them is achieved through the absence of a background in the scenes. George De La Tour's sparsely populated pictures almost always represent scenes that take place nowhere, if they are judged by the almost complete absence of scenery. The boundaries of the settings are, nevertheless, delineated. There appear to be walls, but they have no texture and the colour is not descriptive.
Georges de la Tour's works can be distinguished most especially through the unique use of lighting in his nocturnal scenes. The paintings are lit with a candle, a nightlight, or a torch, which are sometimes visible or are, at other times, hidden behind a figure's hand or another object. As for his less numerous and less popular daylight scenes, the figures are rendered with an acute eye to detail and a simplicity within the scene that is not found in the works of any other artist at the time. In examining various