By this time, Georges de La Tour had proven himself as a painter, and was receiving commissions. This painting is no doubt one of the earliest done to satisfy the taste of a certain class of patrons. In Lorraine, as in neighboring Flanders, the upper classes were very keen on this sort of genre scenes: depictions ridiculing the everyday life of the common people were considered delights in the salon coteries of the period. Nevertheless, these secular portrayals have a moral point to convey, serving to illustrate fables or parables.
The brawl depicted here is among the deprived, those with nothing to covet of each other; it is a conflict between people with naught but their misery to share, thus expressing the sort of absurdity that inspires scorn in some and pity in others.
Although this work is one of the prides of the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, it is not the best of La Tour's production. It does however beautifully inform us of the new influences connected with LunÚville.
Marvellous details - note the old woman's face, evoking sadness with the intensity we associate with a Bruegel or, quite the opposite, the grinning fiddler who brings Franz Hals to mind - reveal the artist's artistic cradle. Other traces, for instance of Jerome Bosch or Le Nain , also make themselves felt.