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Translucent Hands: Christ in the Carpenters Shop

“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.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper January 20, 2019, 2:04 PM

    That ain’t a candle, it’s a BLOWTORCH!

  • Ronetc January 20, 2019, 4:54 PM

    Joseph was never a carpenter “in Jerusalem.” The Holy Family resided in Nazareth. It is hard to take anything seriously that makes such a basic mistake.

  • Gray January 20, 2019, 4:59 PM

    And per that Light:

    “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

  • Daniel January 20, 2019, 7:06 PM

    Jesus seems to be speaking, Joseph listening. The posture of the Christ child is as though enthroned. In de la Tour’s “Adoration of the Shepherds,” Joseph is holding the candle, but there too the child seems to be the source of light. So fascinating!

  • Kristin January 21, 2019, 2:41 AM

    A beautiful rendering of a simple “tableau”. Its the Child’s inner light that brings it to life.

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