Select one of the works of art that are featured in Ch.

Select one of the works of art that are featured in Ch.

Provide a response of approximately 150 words for each of the

 Describe the artwork in terms of the six elements of visual design: line, space,

light and color, texture, pattern, and time and motion. Focus on the elements that

are most relevant to your selected work of art.

“Joseph the Carpenter” by Georges de La Tour is a simple work with minimal

background and few objects in front to detract from the overall execution of the painting.

The spacing of the painting suggests the night as cold, dark, and oppressive. The detail in

this work is very rich in such subtleties as the smoke from the candle flame that seems to

move as you watch it. The faces of the man and the boy seem almost photographic in

their attention to detail. The symbolism here is rich and succinct especially in the one

represented by the candle. The candle is the single light source surrounded by shadows

and creates contrast. The boy holding the candle references Jesus as the “Light of the

World.” The power of the candle appears almost mystically from his hands but is in part,

not fully visible, suggesting that his full potential has not yet been revealed but rather

held back, kept in check until the time is right for it to come out. 

 Analyze the work in terms of the five principles of visual design: balance,

emphasis and focal point, scale and proportion, repetition and rhythm, and unity

and variety. Focus on the principles that are most relevant to your selected work

of art.

Georges de La Tour specialized in religious themes and utilized the technique known as

“chiaroscuro” which means strong contrast between light and dark (“Louvre,” n.d.)

Using a candle for many of his works added rich contrast to his paintings. In this

painting contrast is enhanced by the strong light reflected on Christ’s face that in turn

appears to light up the room. This creates the focal point of the painting and the result is

one of striking visual impact. The instrument that Joseph is using to drill the wood

reflects the shape of the cross. This, along with the layout of the wood on the floor,

which is set cross-like to the seated Jesus, foreshadows the crucifixion. These elements

refer to three devotions that were particularly important in Lorraine in the 17th century

through the motivation of the Franciscans, Saint Joseph, the Infant Jesus, and the Cross,

and unifies the religious symbolism of the composition (“Louvre,” n.d.)

 Evaluate the quality of the artwork based on the elements and principles of visual

design. Analyze and interpret what the artist intended to communicate through

this artwork, including the significance of the title, if any.

Georges de La Tour is best known for the nocturnal light effects which he developed

much further than his artistic predecessors had done, and transferred their use in the

“genre” subjects in the paintings of the Dutch to the religious painting in his

(“Encyclopedia Britannica,” 2014). He was involved in a Franciscan-led religious

revival in Lorraine, and over the course of his career he moved to painting almost entirely

religious subjects (“Encyclopedia Britannica,” 2014). Based on this information, and the

lack of factual historical data of his life, La Tour’s artwork seems to be a result of

political and environmental influences of his era. Unlike Caravaggio, who was his

greatest influence, his religious paintings lack dramatic effects. This composition is a

careful geometrical and simplified painting of forms, but with a high degree of originality

in color and symbolism. Its simplicity extracts both contemplative quiet and wonder, but

lacks the reverence and divinity of better-known allegorical artwork.

 Assess the cultural and historical value of this artwork. Does it qualify as great art

in your opinion? Justify your answer.

As Aristotle once said, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of

things, but their inward significance.”(“Common Cause”, 2013) Great art should make

the viewer feel great emotion, and this composition lacks passion for the subject matter.

Although it is a representational religious painting of Joseph and Christ as a child, the

painting feels very much like a paint