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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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Painting as Portal: “Birth” and “Death” of the Sacred Image

Painting as Portal: “Birth” and “Death” of the Sacred Image

(p.83) Chapter 5 Painting as Portal: “Birth” and “Death” of the Sacred Image
Georges de La Tour and the Enigma of the Visible

Dalia Judovitz

Fordham University Press

Images of birth, death, and mourning are considered in terms of their theological and pictorial implications. Naturalistic depictions of birth and infancy lend themselves to a theological meditation on the Incarnation, as well as reflections on painting as a medium of incarnation. Taking into account the destruction of sacred images in the wake of Post-Reformation iconoclasm, the second part focuses on paintings of St. Sebastian depicting his supposed “death,” mourning, and miraculous recovery. It shows how the martyrdom of painting, figured through the lens of St. Sebastian’s “death,” and the Catholic Reform’s subsequent response in attempting to redefine the sacred image, lead to a new understanding of painting. La Tour’s works address this seminal problem, by showing how painting may redeem its spiritual authority by sacrificing its visual manifestations as an image when redefined as a portal to the sacred.

Keywords:   birth imagery (Christ), Catholic Reform, death of the image, images of St. Sebastian’s “death”, mystery of the Incarnation, painting as medium of incarnation, painting as portal, Post-Reformation iconoclasm, redemption of painting

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