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

The Payment of Dues

Oil on canvas, 99 x 152 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Lwow

An important early picture of La Tour is the surviving Payment of Dues, only identified in 1972, even though it has been in the museum at Lvov since at least the early nineteenth century. (Formerly the painting was attributed to Honthorst.) The picture was cleaned soon after its debut in Paris at the time of the La Tour exhibition in 1972, and a date was revealed. This date, thought to be 1634, has caused a great deal of controversy. If 1634 is correct, a drastic reassessment of La Tour's stylistic development must be made. The early pictures of saints remain from the 1620s, and then in the early 1630s La Tour moves towards his second phase, basically a Le Clerc-influenced period. The swaying figures and flickering lighting of the Payment of Dues are especially reminiscent of Le Clerc's Concert at Schleissheim. There is a certain ambiguity - often present in La Tour - in the subject, which appears to have been little studied. At first sight it is a simple peasant scene of the rich extracting money, ruthlessly, from the poor, but it could be a depiction of the 'Calling of Matthew' (the tax collector).

It was given to La Tour in 1970 when the signature was found.