OIL PAINTING: Woman catching Fleas
La Tour, as with Rembrandt and Velazquez, made the most creative use of the lessons of Caravaggism. This painting by La Tour combines chiaroscuro and candlelight with an uncompromising realism, and achieves a surprising intimacy of feeling.
This painting by La Tour - Woman catching Fleas is enigmatic in both composition and subject-matter. It strikes an uneasy note because of its stark simplicity, which has usually been interpreted as a genre scene of low life - a woman crushing a flea between her fingernails - but no authentic La Tour depicts such an obviously banal theme without a deeper meaning. The only symbol in the picture is the solitary candle burning on the chair, and it is surely not too speculative to suggest that the picture might reprsent the pregnant Virgin, isolated by Joseph when he discovers that she is with child, the candle thus symbolizing the forthcoming Christ as the Light of the World.