cover image Georges de La Tour

Georges de La Tour

Rizzoli, Jacques Thuillier. Flammarion-Pere Castor, $90 (320pp) ISBN 978-2-08-013524-7

One of the grand masters of French painting, Georges de la Tour (1593-1652) paradoxically evolved a highly contrived style to accommodate his uncompromising realist vision. Seeking to reveal inner character through outward appearance alone, he pared down his universe to its absolute limits. In his famous nocturnal scenes, dramatically lit by a candle or hidden light source, the characters, with their calm, mask-like faces, exude an aura of mystery. La Tour's diverse output encompasses the stylized social comedy of The Fortune Teller , the spiritual rapture of Saint Jerome and the earthy realism of A Flea Catcher , which depicts a semi-nude woman ridding herself of fleas before going to bed. In this exhaustive, erudite, sumptuously illustrated study, Thuillier, a French art historian, examines the life and work of an artist who exerts a continuous appeal. (Dec.)