The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame, by Georges de la Tour. France, circa 1638-1640.
From the curator's notes: "Mary Magdalen was traditionally depicted in her grotto or as an aged woman. The absence of explicit narrative in this painting emphasizes Mary's state of mind and heart rather than time and place. The simple composition of vertical and horizontal shapes draws the viewer into the Magdalen's contemplative world. The skull, books of Scripture, and scourge set the mood, but the chief symbol and true subject of the work is the candle at which Mary gazes in her meditation."
Oil on canvas. 46 1/16 x 36 1/8 in. (117 x 91.76 cm). Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation (M.77.73)