That only taxes and death are certain would sum up what we know for sure about GEORGES du Mesnil DE LA TOUR AND HIS WORLD. Just as his native Lorraine lost its independence to France, so was he factored out of the art world during the 250 some years after he died in 1652. His "flea catcher"; "hurdy-gurdy player," variously mistaken as the work of 17th-century Spanish masters Herrera the Elder, Maino, Murillo, Rivera, Velazquez, and Zurbaran; and my favorite, Jacques Callot-type "newborn child" have been recognized as the most beloved of his art of Dutch- and Flemish-type earthy realism and luminously softened colors, eerily flickering light and spectacular lighting effects, finely drafted clothing and hair, highly focused and tensely concentrated mood, and minimal expressions, forms and gestures subtly cluing character. He excelled in not only the theatrically controlled daylight manner, with the henpecked "old man" and thin-lipped "old woman" of the piercing eyes and the careworn "old peasant couple eating" in worn clothing with pulled stitches accented by light brushstrokes and rubbed-thin paint, but also the deeply shadowed and dramatically night-time style, with "denial of St Peter" and "dream of St Joseph." His subjects ranged from the everyday life of ordinary people, as in his boys blowing on a charcoal stick and a firebrand, "girl blowing on a brazier," and my favorite "payment of taxes" with a Jacques Bellange-styled unsettling atmosphere of crowded space, deeply shadowed eyes, meticulously folded drapery and unusual candle-cast shine to arms and faces; to music, with "cornet player," "musicians' brawl" of gesturing arms and gnarled hands around beautifully painted musical instruments and lively highlighted weather-cracked and wrinkled faces, Jean Appier aka Hanzelet-type "woman playing a triangle," and "young singer"; to nonreligious moralizing with all the furtiveness and sideways glances by cheats with the aces of clubs and diamonds in Fontainebleau school-styled solidly brushed half-length figures and Simon Vouet-type colorfully light fine materials, "dice players," and my favorite "fortune-teller"; to religious meditations with "adoration of the shepherds," Job with his broken bowl for scraping sores and his Jacques Bellange-styled highwaisted wife, and such Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio- and Hendrick ter Brugghen-type ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events as saints Alexis, Andrew, Anne mothering Mary and grandmothering Jesus, Francis in ecstasy, James the Less of the brushy arthritic hands, Jerome the scholarly ascetic with a bloodstained knotted rope against self-indulgence, John the Baptist in the wilderness, Jude Thaddeus, Mary Magdalene sorrowing over her sins, Philip of the crystal buttons ingeniously refracting light onto his jacket, Sebastian tenderly cared by Irene and her tearful assistant, and Thomas transformed from doubt to toughly unflinching faith. I particularly like the way he showed children behaving goodly with "Christ with St Joseph in the carpenter's shop" and "education of the Virgin." Ever since reading Aldous Huxley I have wondered which three books I would take to a BRAVE NEW WORLD: chances are that one would be editor Philip Conisbee's carefully written, gorgeously illustrated and well-organized book, because I have loved de La Tour's art ever since learning about him from my artist mother and sister during my student years and because this one-of-a-kind, reader-friendly book plants his first American exhibition so firmly in the art world that, what with GEORGES DE LA TOUR in French by Paulette Chone, Pierre Rosenberg and Bruno Ferte, and Jacques Thuillier and what with David Huddle's upcoming LA TOUR DREAMS OF THE WOLF GIRL and Christopher Wright's THE MASTERS OF CANDLELIGHT, he should never be dislodged again.