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Georges de La Tour and the Enigma of the Visible$
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Dalia Judovitz

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823277438

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823277438.001.0001

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The Enigma of the Visible

The Enigma of the Visible

(p.15) Chapter 1 The Enigma of the Visible
Georges de La Tour and the Enigma of the Visible

Dalia Judovitz

Fordham University Press

This chapter begins with an analysis of La Tour’s allegorical paintings of blind hurdy-gurdy musicians in order to explore the deceptive, even blinding, character of ordinary vision. These renderings of music making and audition (whose invisibility defies vision and challenges the representational purview of painting) are examined in reference to his portrayals of St. Jerome and Mary Magdalene. Figuring the attainment of spiritual insight rather than sight, these devotional works attest to a contemplative mode of seeing illuminated by the biblical Word. They challenge the viewer by attempting to depict what painting cannot ultimately show: namely, spoken words, audition, the passage of time, and spiritual passions reflecting changes of heart.

Keywords:   deceptive vision, hearing versus seeing, hurdy-gurdy musicians, St. Jerome, Mary Magdalene, spiritual insight, spiritual passions, visible and invisible

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