Magdalen with the Smoking Flame

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Magdalen with the Smoking Flame
Georges de La Tour - Magdalen of Night Light - WGA12337.jpg
Artist Georges de La Tour
Year c. 1640
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 128 cm × 94 cm (50 in × 37 in)
Location Louvre, Paris

Saint Mary Magdalen with the Smoking Flame (also titled in French La Madeleine à la veilleuse, and La Madeleine à la flamme filante) is an oil-on-canvas by French Baroque painter Georges de La Tour, painted in 1640. This version of the painting is currently held and exhibited at the Louvre in Paris. Other paintings by La Tour containing the Penitent Magdalene are exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,[1] the National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Bought in 1949 from the French Administration des Douanes. In the somewhat uncertain chronology of Georges de La Tour's work, this painting has been allotted the date of 1640, by analogy with the Saint Mary with a Mirror, which has been dated between 1635 and 1645.[2] During the 17th century, great devotion was shown to Mary Magdalen in all Catholic countries. She was the perfect lover of Christ, her beauty made yet more appealing by reason of her repentance, which had a special attraction for a period so passionately interested in problems of mysticism, quietism and ascetism. The theme of the repentance of sinners and trials sent by God is illustrated in such subjects as the Repentance of St. Peter, Mary Magdalen and Job.[3] A number of written works give evidence of the cult of the Magdalen[4] and this cult was the more widespread since Provence owned two great sanctuaries dedicated to her: the grotto of La Sainte-Baume, and the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.[5] It has been suggested that Georges de La Tour took a gypsy as his model: at the time, there were many in Lorraine where he painted this picture.[6] This painting and the Mirror one mentioned above, seem to have been inspired by several themes popular with Italian and Dutch artists: the repentant Magdalen, Melancholy, and Vanity. The artist has given it a feeling of philosophical meditation in keeping with the spirit of the time; the saint's body is enveloped in mysterious darkness, and her pensive face illumined only by the candle. The bare limbs increase the impression of destitution (but also have a certain sensual attractiveness—which remind one of her past). On her knees a skull (for the Golgotha), on the table some books and a candle, and, on a wooden cross, a blood-stained scourge—a suggestion of the more violent side of the Magdalene's penitence.Good

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Le Floch, Jean-Claude. Le Floch, La Tour, Le Clair et L'Obscur, Herscher, 1995
  • Le Floch, Jean-Claude. Le signe de contradiction : essai sur Georges de La Tour et son oeuvre, Presses Universitaires de Rennes 2, 1995
  • Thuilier, Jacques. Georges de La Tour, Flammarion, 1992

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