LA TOUR, Georges de
(b. 1593, Vic-sur-Seille, d. 1652, Lunéville)

Christ in the Carpenter's Shop

Oil on canvas, 137 x 101 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

On the same deep level as in the Job, in a similar vein but more complex in composition, is the Christ in the Carpenter's Shop in the Louvre. As in the Job, one of the figures is arched over the top of the canvas, and again the attention to mood is shown in the minute observation of the effects of light in certain areas, especially that of the translucency of the child's hand silhouetted against the candle, revealing even the dirt in the fingernails. As usual, La Tour tells the Bible story in the simplest of terms. Only items essential for identifying the subject, in this case the paraphernalia of the carpenter's shop, are included. The picture can exist on the level of a genre scene without religious overtones, and its realism makes it one of the greatest genre paintings of the seventeenth century, rivaling Velázquez's Water Seller of Seville and Rembrandt's Jewish Bride (the latter has also been interpreted as a religious or mythological subject).