georges de la tour
(vic-sur-seilles 1593 – lunéville 1652) 

 

Saint Andrew

 

oil on canvas
62 x 50.5 cm. (24.4 x 19.9 in.)
c. 1620

“La Tour was above all an unexpected painter; in the provincial seclusion of Lunéville, not tied to any rigid tradition, he […] found formulae for his pictorial ideas which were highly original and personal.”

Vitale Bloch, “Georges de la Tour Once Again”, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 96, No. 612, Mar., 1954, p. 81.

Georges de La Tour was born in 1593 in Vic-sur-Seille as the son of two bakers. Even though he was highly successful and the most important exponent of Caravaggism in seventeenth-century France, much of La Tour’s life remains obscure. He fell into oblivion until 1915, when he was finally rediscovered by Herman Voss. His apprenticeship began around 1605, perhaps in Vic and likely also in Nancy with the painter, etcher and draftsman Jacques Bellange (1575-1633), who was court painter there.1 Since La Tour’s work is so heavily indebted to Caravaggio, the question arises if the Frenchman ever travelled to either Rome, or if Caravaggio’s influence reached him through one of his many followers in Europe in the second decade of the century, such as Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622) or Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656).2

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In 1617, La Tour married Diane Le Nerf, an heiress of wealthy silversmiths from Lunéville, and the young couple settled in her hometown where La Tour opened a workshop in 1620. In Lorraine, La Tour enjoyed court patronage from Henri II duc de Lorraine (1608-1624), admirer of Caravaggio and married to the Italian princess Margherita Gonzaga (1591-1632), who commissioned paintings for their new château.3 The present painting of Saint Andrew dates to the beginning of La Tour’s career and was part of an important commission, already demonstrating sophistication and strong tenebrism in the mantle of the figure. After the partial destruction of Lunéville in 1639 due to the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), La Tour went to Paris in search of new patronage, where he worked for Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642) and King Louis XIII named him Peintre Ordinaire de Roi. Once his house in Lunéville was rebuilt in 1641, La Tour and his family returned, with plenty of prospects for commissions.4 La Tour died in 1652 shortly after his wife, likely from an epidemic.

 

Notes
1. Michel Sylvestre, “Georges de La Tour,” last modified 2003, accessed 31 August 2021 from https://www-oxfordartonline-com.lonlib.idm.oclc.org/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000049527?rskey=9Y5hPh.
2. Gail Feigenbaum, in French Paintings of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue
, (Washington D.C.: The National Gallery, 2009), 271.
3.Pascal Quignard, Georges de La Tour, (Galilée, 2005), 45.
4. Jacques Thuillier, Georges de La Tour, 2nd edition (Paris: Flammarion, 2012), 267.

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(Probably) commissioned for a church or monastery in or around Lunéville, or Vic, and later sent to Paris, where in 1694 retrieved by;
François de Camps (1643-1723), Abbot of Signy, on behalf of the following;
Jean-Baptiste Nualart (d. 1694), Canon of Albi Cathedral, by whom gifted to the following;
Chapel of Saint John, Albi Cathedral, until c. 1795, or shortly thereafter.
Private collection, near Albi, and by descent until 1991.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, Monaco, 21 June 1991, lot 108;
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, London, 8 July 2021, lot 51;
The Klesch Collection.

London, Walpole Gallery, ‘France in the Golden Age’, 26 June – 31 July 1996, no. 1.
Paris, Grand Palais, ‘Georges de La Tour’, 3 October 1997-26 January 1998, no. 5.
Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, on long-term loan, 6 September 2000-October 2018.
Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, Georges de La Tour, 8 March – 29 May 2005, no. 2.
Madrid, Museo del Prado, ‘Georges de La Tour’, 1593-1652, 23 February – 12 June 2016, no. 3.

C. Le Goux de la Berchère, ‘Procez verbal de la visite de l’église métropolitaine et du chapitre d’Alby’, 8 March 1698, MS, Albi, Archevêché d’Albi, as ‘treize tableaux représentant Nostre-Seigneur et les douze apôtres, dans les bordures dorées pour demeurer attachés fixés autour de ladite chapelle, où ils sont’.
Mémoire des effets concernant les Arts qui se trouvent dans le district d’Alby, département du Tarn, et qui méritent la plus grande considération, etc., 1795, MS, Paris, Archives Nationales, F 17A 1231, dossier 4, pièce 44, as ‘Douze petits tableaux, grandeur de portraits, représentant les douze Apôtres, d’une touche forte et rembrunie comme celle de Michel-Ange de Caravage’.
R. Huyghe, ‘L’influence de La Tour. Une oeuvre perdue de Georges de la Tour’, L’Amour de L’Art, 1946, p. 255-258.
F.G. Pariset, Georges de La Tour, Paris, 1948, p. 399, note 89.
P. Rosenberg and J. Thuillier, in Georges de La Tour, P. Landry, ed., exh. cat., Paris, 1972, pp. 127-128 and 239, under nos. 4 and 34-42.
J. Thuillier, L’Opera Completa di Georges de La Tour, Milan, 1973, p. 88, under no. 19, as ‘St Bartholomew (?)’ after a lost original.
B. Nicolson and C. Wright, Georges de La Tour, London, 1974, pp. 22 and 166, under no. 12, as ‘St Bartholomew (?)’ and ‘original lost’, dating to circa 1621-23.
B. Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, Turin, 1989, I, p. 133, as ‘St Bartholomew (?)’ and ‘lost’.
M. Mojana, in Georges de La Tour, P. Rosenberg, ed., Paris, 1992, p. 20, no. 4, illustrated, as ‘St Bartholomew’.
J. Thuillier, Georges de La Tour, Paris, 1992, pp. 46-48, 54 and 283-82, no. 6, illustrated in colour.
J.-C. Boyer, ‘Les “Apôtres” de Georges de La Tour de Paris à Albi’, in Georges de La Tour, ou, La nuit traversé: Colloque organisé à Vic-sur-Seille, du 9 au 11 septembre 1993, Metz, 1994, p. 59, as ‘St. Bartholomew’.
J.-C. Le Floch, Le Signe de contradiction: Essai sur Georges de La Tour et son œuvre, Rennes, 1995, p. 128, under no. 11, as ‘Saint Barthelemy (peut-être plutôt un Saint André)’.
J. Thuillier, Saint Jean-Baptiste dans le désert: Georges de La Tour, Metz, 1995, p. 15, illustrated.
P. Choné, Georges de La Tour: Un peintre lorrain au XVIIe siècle, Tournai, 1996, p. 130, illustrated.
P. Conisbee, ‘An Introduction to the Life and Art of Georges de La Tour’, in Georges de La Tour and His World, exh. cat., Washington and Fort Worth, 1996, pp. 43 and 48, fig. 33.
L. Slatkes, ‘Georges de La Tour and the Netherlandish Followers of Caravaggio’, in Georges de La Tour and His World, exh. cat., Washington and Fort Worth, 1996, p. 206.
D. Brême, Georges de La Tour, Paris, 1997, pp. 40-45, illustrated.
J.-P. Cuzin and D. Salmon, Georges de La Tour: Histoire d’une redécouverte, Paris, 1997, pp. 112-113, illustrated.
Grand Palais, Georges de la Tour, exh. cat., Paris, 1997, no. 5, p. 96.
P. Rosenberg and B. Ferté, La Tour, Milan, 1998, p. 121, no. 13, illustrated, erroneously as in the collection of Heinz Kisters, Kreuzlingen.
J.-P. Mohen et al., Les Apôtres de Georges de La Tour: réalités et virtualités, exh. cat., Albi, 2004, pp. 4, 10-11 and 61-62, illustrated.
The National Museum of Western Art, Georges de La Tour, exh. cat., Tokyo, 2005, no. 2, p. 40, illustrated in black and white p. 35, in colour p. 41 and 168.
V. Merlini, D. Salmon and D. Storti, eds., Georges de La Tour in Milan: The Adoration of the Shepherds, Christ with Saint Joseph in the Carpenter’s Shop, exh. cat., Milan, 2011, pp. 49 and 53, fig. 40a.
Museo del Prado, Georges de la Tour, 1593-1652, exh. cat., Madrid, 2016, no. 3, p. 88-89, reproduced in colour p. 92.

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