Small biography.

  To constitute a biography of this big painter is not easy thing so much documents relative to its life are rare. Only a succession of marks allows to redraw the main stages of it.

  Son of baker, Georges Dumesnil de la Tour was born on March 14, 1593 to Vic-sur-Seille (in Lorraine). One supposes it in Italy from 1610 till 1616 when he would have been a pupil of Guido Reni, but this hypothesis is regrettably very controversial by the historians of art. On July 2, 1617, he get married to Diane le Nerf and left at the same opportunity Vic-sur-Seille to settle down to Lunéville, quoted where from is native sound marry. Appointed "painter of the city" in 1620, he known to it a rather fast social ascent and received even a lot of commands thanks to its works which are very appreciated in the time. Louis XIII - who admired his work (notably "Saint Sebastien lamented by Saint-Irene") - he would have given the title of " Common painter of King" in 1639, but this other hypothesis is also very criticized. Georges de la Tour is also known in all the city for his antipathy, his violence, his miserliness.... which do of him a really intolerable man. According to the specialists, it is about another common point with Caravage, painter whose style of Georges de la Tour's works is very close. He died in January, 1652, and will fall in the neglect almost general during almost three centuries. The pictures - that one will attribute afterward to various authors - will go out of this phase only at the beginning of the XX-th century.

Vielleux and ...

  De la Tour is known for players of hurdy-gurdy for its picture representing a beggar playing with a chiffonie of oval shape. There are really three pictures in touch with the hurdy-gurdy, all attributed to this painter. Here we are, was classified in order chronological :

tableau 1
Le vielleur au chien
186x120 cm - huile / toile

Musée municipal
Rue du Mont de Piété
59380 Bergues
Tel :

This picture, the first one of the series of the beggars musicians - typical in the art of Lorraine, was seized by the revolutionaries in 1789 in the abbey of Saint-Winoc to Bergues then allocated to the museum of the city in 1838. Very damaged in the XIX-th century by a cleaning, it was restored in 1972. The discovery of still intact materials of origin, the used colours... allowed to classify this picture in the series of the "Apostles".

tableau 2
Le vielleur à la sacoche
157x94 cm - huile / toile

Musée Charles Friry
12, rue du Général Humbert
88200 Remiremont
Tel :

Being also called "Vielleur Waidmann ", this picture is considered as a work of workshop preceding "Vielleur" of Nantes. Charles Friry, big collector of objects of art, buy this picture in 1846. It will come to complete his collection in his house, which is at the moment moment Remiremont's municipal Museum (in Lorraine). There is there however another copy acquired by the Jesuits in 1880, rediscovered in 1934 and statement since 1960 to the Historic Museum of Nancy. According to the specialists, it would be about a copy.

tableau 3
Le vielleur
162x105cm - huile / toile

Musée des Beaux-Arts
10, rue Georges Clémenceau
44000 Nantes
Tel :

It will have been necessary to wait for 1930's so that, thanks to Hermann Voss's works, this work is finally attributed to his real author, enclosing so a long list in which appeared names as Velasquez the young, Zurbaran or still Mayno. Contrary to the previous two pictures, this "Vielleur" is certainly a command of a member of the bourgeois Lorraine or Flemish, very fond of this genre of subject. As for the date of its creation, it is estimated between 1631 and 1636.

Finally it is to note that one finds this same person in "Rixe de musiciens" which is exposed to Malibu (California) to Paul Getty Museum (cf. extracted below).

... et leur vielle.

Characteristics of this hurdy-gurdy :

- Factor : unknown
- Date : unknown (second half of the 17th century)
- The box is flat, of oval shape.
- Credibly chromatic keyboard, with about 10 keys by row.
- 6 strings : 3 melody strings, 2 drones and 1 trumpet.
- Vibrating length : nearly 30 cm.
- Wheel with a coniq section.
- One or two hearing.
- A "cache-roue".
- Table credibly nailed in the box.
- Rectlinear crank with a squared section in iron.
- Decoration :
        For the hearing and on the keyboard (cf. drawing).
        On the top of the keyboard and for the hearing (cf. drawing).
- Holes in the table and in the box for the tie of drones, trumpet and ribbon fixed in hiding "cache-roue".
- Two small columns with square section.
- Square head of keys in the slightly curved vertical sides.

Dimensions (rough, according to estimations) :

Total length : 54 cm
Case's height with keyboard : 19 cm
Table's width : 30 cm
Table's length : 40 cm
Keyboard's width : 9 cm
Keyboard's length : 21 cm
Wheel's diameter : 12 cm

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Copyright juillet 2001 - Xavier AIME - Reproduction interdite