Saint Mary Magdalen with the Smoking Flame (1640). Georges de La Tour (French, Baroque, 1593-1652). Oil on canvas. Louvre.
The repentant Magdalen, Melancholy, and Vanity. The artist gave it 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.