Certain paintings by Georges de La Tour have been compared to the work of Caravaggio or Zurburan. The comparison makes sense if we refer to paintings rediscovered at Albi, a site halfway between Italy and Spain. This first portrait belongs to a suite of thirteen, which hung on the walls of the city's Cathedral until the French Revolution. The realistic approach taken to the robustly human portrayal of the subject clearly reflects the influence of the great Italian master. The same vigorous delineation characterizes a second apostle, Saint Jude Thaddeus. And the two apostles are as reminiscent of Caravaggio's Saint Matthew as of his Saint Peter; the hands on the pilgrim's staff, the nails, the sharp gaze, and a solid presence in a perfectly organized masterpiece.
These two works are the only originals remaining from the suite Georges de La Tour produced for the Albi commission. They belong to his early career, and speak in favor of the thesis held by some historians to the effect that he studied in Italy. The Italian influence is not the only one. A sketchy biographical overview represents the little we know about this artist at long last re-emerging from the shadows of oblivion.
A third apostle exists, and now hangs at the Louvre Museum thanks to a national subscription which brought it to Paris. Analysis dates this Saint Thomas later than the Albi series apostles discussed above.