LA HIRE, Laurent de
(b. 1606, Paris, d. 1656, Paris)

The Children of Bethel Mourned by their Mothers

1653
Oil on canvas, 97 x 129 cm
Palais Saint-Vaast, Arras

La Hire never went to Italy, and his style was formed in Paris under the Mannerist Georges Lallemant. All La Hire's leanings towards classical antiquity were therefore learned at second hand, particularly from the work of Nicolas Poussin. As early as 1630, however, a certain coldness was detectable in his art, probably derived from Vouet, who had recently returned from Rome.

Almost all of La Hire's best pictures are of figures in classical landscapes. The Children of Bethel Mourned by their Mothers corresponds to a type already perfected by Poussin, namely a strong moral content with figures carefully arranged in an equally carefully balanced landscape or architectural setting. Even though La Hire's result was totally different from that of Poussin and it would never be possible to confuse the two, they fall into the same general category and would have appealed to the same type of patrons.