June 22, 2014

Transluscent Hands: Christ in the Carpenters Shop

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"Another haunting work of Georges de la Tour in his tenebrist style is Christ in the Carpenters Shop, completed in 1645 and which hangs in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. 

"It is a depiction of Joseph, a descendant of the house of David, husband of Mary and "€œfoster father"€ to Christ, who was a carpenter in Jerusalem. In Georges de la Tour's depiction we see Joseph leaning forward, busy drilling a hole in a block of wood with his auger, the shape of which mirrors the shape of a cross.  He is in his workshop watched over by Jesus whose face radiates in the large frame.  Once again the depiction of the two characters is swathed in darkness with only their faces and upper bodies lit up by the flame of the candle held by the boy.
"Jesus is seated and holds a candle to illuminate what Joseph is doing. It almost seems that it is the face of Jesus which is illuminating the scene and not the light of the candle. The act of holding up the light for Joseph to see by has an allegorical reference to Jesus Christ being the Light of the World as mentioned in the New Testament (John 8:12)." On Georges de la Tour

“…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.…”

Posted by gerardvanderleun at June 22, 2014 3:03 AM
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Posted by: Leslie at June 22, 2014 8:53 AM

God from God. Light from Light. True God from True God.

Posted by: Jewel at June 22, 2014 9:29 AM

Exactly so. As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever will be, world without end....

Posted by: vanderleun at June 22, 2014 12:29 PM

Having grown up, Gerard, in a church whose theology is summed up in bumper stickers "No Creed But Christ" "If it ain't in the Bible it ain't important" I find it edifying and comforting to be able to recite the Greatest Creed on Earth and in Heaven.

Posted by: Jewel at June 22, 2014 6:04 PM

Beautiful picture. Forgive me a quibble. Although traditionally St. Joseph is portrayed as a carpenter, the Scriptures are not that specific. They call him a "tekton," which means a craftsman, the practitioner of a "tekne" or technical trade. He might have been a carpenter. He might have been a mason (an "architekton" is a "master mason") or he might have been a physician. A practitioner of many trades would have been called a "tekton." The implication is that St. Joseph was not a rabbi or scribe, nor a wealthy man. His (step)son, by the way, is never referred to as a "tekton," but only as a "master," or rabbi.

Posted by: Punditarian at June 22, 2014 7:18 PM

It helps to keep the world's doings in perspective.

Posted by: grace at June 22, 2014 7:39 PM

Blessings and the gifts of God's Grace do not come to me by accident.
Thank you Gerard.

Posted by: chasmatic at June 23, 2014 11:57 PM

Punditarian: Forgive me a quibble.
You like this with all the beautiful things you look at?
You look but you don't see, listen but cannot hear.

Posted by: chasmatic at June 24, 2014 8:36 AM

This is beautiful. Thank you Gerard for posting it.

Posted by: DeAnn at June 26, 2014 5:37 AM

I'll join small minds and quibble a bit too. Joseph more resembles some mind's eye of God than he does a twenty-eight year old man. Living was once a young persons game.

Posted by: james wilson at June 26, 2014 1:40 PM