Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

Reader 1

George Gorse

Reader 2

Corey Tazzara

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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.