In this detail from de la Tour's moving portrayal of the birth of Jesus, we see Joseph's hand tenderly guiding the candle's light to illuminate the Christ-child's face. In the Isaiah passage for this day, the prophet foretells the coming of Christ with the language, "Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." In this peaceful painting, Joseph's first gesture tells of his own fatherly love.
The artist, Georges de la Tour, painting in France in the early 17th century, was deeply affected by a religious revival based upon the teachings of the 12th century mystic, Francis of Assisi. His work's power is drawn from the balance of opposites: dramatic, chiaroscuro lighting combined with still, simple, almost solid geometric human form.
|Attribution:||La Tour, Georges du Mesnil de, 1593-1652. Birth of Christ, detail, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=46620 [retrieved March 26, 2017]. Original source: Wikimedia Commons. |