Louvre Made Easy‎ > ‎

Saint Joseph the Carpenter

Saint Joseph the Carpenter is patron saint of.... guess who? Carpenters! He is Virgin Mary's husband so, we could call him, Jesus' stepdaddy. And he's working in front of Little Jesus. Look at the pieces of the wood on the floor? It is supposed to allude to the cross that Jesus was crucified on. The painting enhalts Christ's childish purity and innocence by lighting his face with candlelight. His face looks admiring, curious and innocent and the reflection of the candlelight off his face seems to light up the whole room. It is juxtaposed to Joseph's careful craftsmanship and concentration. Georges de La Tour artistic skill is visible in the way candlelight traverses through Christ's hand and in the still life of a tool and woodshaving in the foreground. He uses an chiaroscuro effect - quick change from light to dark. 

The painting belonged to an English merchant Percy Moore who wanted to sell it to the National Gallery of London. But the Gallery didn't have enough money for it. In 1948 (10 years after he wanted to sell it to the National Gallery of London) Percy Moore donated the painting to the Louvre in the memory of his friend Paul Jamot.

The painter Georges de La Tour - his father was a baker and the mother came for a partly noble family. He lived in the Lorraine region which is now in France and is thought to have traveled to the Netherlands or Italy to learn painting. He probably picked up chiaroscuro techniques from the Dutch Caravaggisti school in Utrecht. Throughout his career, he drifted towards simple geometric forms and painted more and more religious works. He paints a lot of night scenes lit by candlelight.