Joseph the Carpenter

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Joseph the Carpenter
La Tour.jpg
Artist Georges de La Tour
Year c. 1645[1]
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 130 cm × 100 cm (​51 18 in × ​31 34 in)
Location Louvre, Paris

Joseph the Carpenter is an oil painting by Georges de La Tour created circa 1645.[1] The painting depicts a young Jesus with Saint Joseph, his earthly father.[1][2]

Joseph drills a piece of wood with an auger.[1] The shape of the auger reflects the shape of the Cross and the geometry of the wood arrayed on the floor, set cross-wise to the seated child Christ, is a foreshadowing of the crucifixion.[3] John Rupert Martin writes that Jesus' patience represents "filial obedience and the acceptance of his destiny as martyr".[3]

This painting, created around the year 1645 is one of several tenebrist paintings by La Tour. Others include The Education of the Virgin, the Penitent Magdalene, and The Dream of St. Joseph. In all these works, a single, strong light source is a central element, surrounded by cast shadows. In both Joseph the Carpenter and The Education of the Virgin, the young Christ is represented, hand raised, as if in benediction, with the candlelight shining through the flesh as an allegorical reference to Christ as the "Light of the World."


  1. ^ a b c d Horst Woldemar Janson & Anthony F. Janson. History of Art: The Western Tradition. Prentice Hall (2003), p. 608. ISBN 0-13-182895-9.
  2. ^ Ann Sutherland Harris. Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture. Laurence King Publishing (2005), p266. ISBN 1-85669-415-1.
  3. ^ a b John Rupert Martin. Baroque. Westview Press (1977), p. 126-27. ISBN 0-06-430077-3.

Further reading

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