The Portland Museum of Art happily presents a painting by Georges de Latour "The Penitent Magdalene”(About 1635–37), a treasure of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Georges de Latour was one of the great artists of the world. He mainly specialized in night scenes in which artificial light sources play an active role. They, of course, were not new in European art, but Latour was exceptional because he used light to set the mood and convey the basic qualities of the subject. As a rule, the light illuminates only essential details, and the geometry of its strict compositions gives them monumentality.
Mary Magdalene — the leading woman among the first followers of Jesus — was the paradigm of a sinner transformed by a life of solitary contemplation and repentance. Thus, Latour’s work very appropriately reflects her loss in a transcendental state. The mood of concentrated meditation is enhanced by a distinct aura of light and especially darkened lower part of the composition. In addition to the wafting smoke, the scene is mostly quiet and calm.