It was only in 1916 – some 250 years after his death – that Georges de La Tour’s artistic identity was rediscovered. The scarcity of surviving works by his hand, coupled with a lack of documentary evidence, means that much is still to be discovered about his life, training and career.
La Tour was baptised in Vic-sur-Seille, a town in Lorraine in the east of France, on 14 March 1593. Besides this baptismal record, the earliest documents date from 1616 and 1617, when he is again recorded in his native Vic. La Tour may have trained there with Claude Dogoz, or in Nancy with the court painter Jacques-Charles Bellange. From 1620 he was resident in Lunéville, also in Lorraine, where he built up a prosperous practice, taking on increasing numbers of apprentices and properties. In around 1631 Lorraine came to be caught up in Thirty Years’ War, the devastation from which might explain the loss of some of La Tour’s works. Despite this conflict, he continued to prosper. By 1639 La Tour had been appointed 'Peintre ordinaire du Roi' (Painter in Ordinary to King Louis XIII), around which time he also appears to have visited Paris: major Parisian collectors such as Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu and Claude de Bullion owned works by the artist.
La Tour died in Lunéville in 1652. His last paintings may have been produced with the assistance of his son, Etienne, who was the only one of La Tour’s ten children to take up his artistic profession.