Is this any woman?
Mary? The Madonna?
Georges de La Tour does not say. However, all is said by the majestic and serene staging of this newborn child and the face above it, encompassed within a large red triangle: surely we have more here than just any woman. This is the archetypal mother, universal, the Holy Virgin of the Scriptures.
During the first hours of their lives, babies are incredibly fragile. This smooth face, as delicate as if emerging from a chrysalis, can only belong to a being still in a state of becoming, yet to be realized.
In his endeavors to describe the intense reality of his subjects, La Tour tended to take matters a good step further than his contemporaries and masters. In shaping his figures, he resorted to a rare simplicity and limited his effects to a minimum. With the compositional and scenic skill of a true master, he imbued his work with light to bring out the faces, delineate the plot, and guide the viewer.