Monday, December 19, 2011


Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano

Milano: Palazzo Marino – George de la Tour exhibition.  For the first time in Italy the "The Nativity" by Georges de la Tour (1593-1652) is on display (until January 8 2012) accompanied by one of the most famous masterpieces by the artist from Lorraine, "St. Joseph the Carpenter". The special event for the traditional Christmas exhibition at Palazzo Marino was organized by Eni with the collaboration of the Municipality of Milano and the Louvre and curated by Valeria Merlini and Daniela Storti.  There is little documentary evidence about the life of the artist, whose training and background remain shrouded in mystery. There is a continuing hypothesis that he may have travelled to Italy where he came into contact with the work of the great Caravaggio, to whom reference is always made in any critical analysis of de la Tour's work. The Nativity was added to the collection of the Louvre in 1926 after being attributed to La Tour by Hermann Voss, the great German art historian who, in 1915, had brought the artist back from the oblivion into which he had fallen.

Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano

George de la Tour: - The Nativity - a detail: The theme of the nocturnal adoration of the shepherds was one that spread out from Italy, starting in the early sixteenth century with Correggio's celebrated Adoration of the Shepherds, held in Dresden and commonly known as The Night. But, in the magical atmosphere of the work of Georges de La Tour, in the intimate and restrained domesticity of the scene, the Franco-Flemish stylistic tradition plays an important role. 

Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano
George de la Tour: St Joseph the Carpenter – a detail.  Also in the perhaps better known work, St Joseph the Carpenter, the warmth of the diffused light from the candle held by the young Jesus, who watches his putative father at work with admiration, is immersed in a night-time scene that was familiar to the Northern European tradition of the period. In the painting, the moving father-son relationship, also allows us to reflect on the iconographic character of the devotion to the Saint, the Son and the Cross, which is reflected in the work the Joseph is leaning over, in the manner of many of the religious texts of the period. Also from a technical perspective the work is perhaps the best example of a body of "candlelit" work by de la Tour. The light, which is hidden from the eyes of the observer by the hand of the Child and is spread across his face, which becomes the true source of the luminosity of a familiar and intimate scene, made transcendent. Visitors will be able to admire these two paintings against a dedicated backdrop, with carefully selected materials, that gives them the appropriate space to be fully appreciated. 

Photo credit Gérard Blot courtesy Eni and Comune di Milano

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