Georges de la Tour was born in Vic-sur-Seille, France, on March 13, 1593. If you’ve never heard of this town in northeastern France before, I am unsurprised; being de la Tour’s birthplace is its only claim to fame. He moved to Luneville about 1620, where he received many important commissions from the Duc de Lorraine. He also presented one of his paintings to Louis XIII, who was so enchanted by it that he decided to remove paintings by all other artists from his private apartments.
De la Tour concentrated on religious subjects, many of which were rather somber with large areas of dark shadows and muted colors subtly illuminated by a candle to create dark, dramatic and essentially realistic scenes. In this regard, he was heavily influenced by Caravaggio and was, indeed, the leading French exponent of his particular brand of naturalism, although eschewing Caravaggio’s penchant for the macabre. De la Tour’s paintings exude serenity in keeping with their subject matter. Like his paintings, however, he languished in obscurity for many years and was not rediscovered by a German art expert until 1915.