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

St Sebastien Attended by St Irene

c. 1649
Oil on canvas, 167 x 130 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

There is a group of painting attributed to Georges de La Tour depicting St Sebastian and St Irene. Part of them is a horizontal composition where the model of one of the figures is a familiar La Tour type. Most of the versions are curiously incompetent, only three of them having pretensions to quality. The upright versions of the same subject (one in the Louvre and the other in Berlin) are more celebrated. The composition is monumental, as if the painting were depicting a sculptured tableau.

The Louvre composition is especially moving, with the mourning figure in a blue cowl (in the Berlin version the cowl is black) looking as if she were taken from a piece of Burgundian tomb sculpture. Recent observations on the possible dating of the costumes have left little doubt that the picture is rather later than the artist's lifetime. Étienne de La Tour, the son of the artist was suggested (but not accepted) as the possible author. Étienne de La Tour is actually documented as being required to continue his father's style, should the latter die inopportunately, and it is likely that he continued long into the 1660s and even the 1670s, painting ever-weaker versions of his father's work which eventually became mockeries of his father's genius.