Is this scene quiet because of the candle light? Is it quiet because we know the Shepherds Adoring Christ first saw him in a barn, with hay muting all noise? Or perhaps it’s just plain human – no one wants to wake a sleeping baby, after all.
This is the first of a series of baby Jesus paintings that I’ll post leading up to Christmas Day, this one painted in 1644 by French Baroque painter Georges de La Tour. That candle light is a signature of his work (though there are one or two that this Lorraine native painted without a candle, they’re few and far between), as are the blocky, awkward people. In general I’m not a huge fan of his work, but here both elements make the scene quite strong – his wooden stiff characters because they were shepherds summoned by an angel to look at a miracle, they should be a bit stiff, no? And the candle light because it adds to the religion in this scene as does it turn the mute on, leading you to think they’re all holding their breath to ensure baby Christ continues his slumber.
As for its whereabouts — surprise, surprise, it can be seen at the Louvre – Sully 2nd Floor, Room 24 (if they haven’t shut that room off recently for the 3-storey stairwell they’ve been building which has disturbed all sorts of thatlouers!).