Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2020 Elizabeth Carleton
Georges de La Tour is famous for his Mary Magdalene paintings, but he remains one of the most mysterious figures in 17th Century French art. In my thesis, I elaborate the ways in which La Tour's unique painting style was impacted by Counter-Reformation meditation theology and contemporary French mystical literature. While La Tour's artistic inspirations include Caravaggio, the Caravaggisti, and French and Lorrainese Mannerists, his late-career nocturne style is a striking departure from his early career, demonstrating an intense, reflective spirituality. In his use of light and flame to symbolize holiness, La Tour positions himself as spiritual intercessor to the viewer while drawing on the tradition of French mysticism, including Nostredame's poetry on the Magdalene. La Tour's career-long focus on the human form, through both genre and religious painting, elevates the everyday and the ordinary to the sacred.
Carleton, Elizabeth, "Sacred Flame: Meditative Mysticism in the Works of Georges de La Tour" (2020). Scripps Senior Theses. 1731.