St. Simon (1615 – 1620) by Georges de la Tour

St. Simon - Georges de la Tour - 1615 - 1620

Artwork Information

TitleSt. Simon
ArtistGeorges de la Tour
Date1615 - 1620
Art MovementTenebrism

About St. Simon

The artwork “St. Simon” was created by the French Baroque painter Georges de la Tour sometime between 1615 and 1620. De la Tour is known for his mastery of oil on canvas as a medium, and “St. Simon” is an exemplary piece within the Tenebrism movement, characterized by its dramatic illumination and use of stark contrasts between darkness and light. This religious painting belongs to a genre that puts a strong emphasis on depicting biblical figures and narratives with a sense of realism and emotional depth.

In “St. Simon,” the artwork portrays the apostle Simon, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, often identified by the attribute of a saw, which is present in the painting. The figure is depicted with intense realism; his face is deeply lined, suggesting age and experience, and his gaze is directed outward, engaging with the viewer. The artwork is defined by its chiaroscuro technique, where the lighting seems to emanate from a single source that illuminates the figure’s face and hands, leaving much of the background enveloped in shadow. This dramatic lighting creates a compelling contrast that accentuates the textures of Simon’s robes and the weathered appearance of his skin.

De la Tour’s use of Tenebrism is particularly noticeable here, enhancing the painting’s emotive quality and underscoring the spiritual gravity of the subject. The somber tones and the absence of a detailed background focus the viewer’s attention on the apostle’s expression and the objects he holds, which contributes to the reflective atmosphere of the painting. “St. Simon” serves as a contemplative piece, inviting the viewer to engage with the transcendental themes represented by the saint’s solemn presence.

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