Dalia Judovitz

National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of French at Emory University.


Dalia Judovitz is known for her work in the fields of 17th-century French literature, philosophy and modern/postmodern aesthetics

Georges de La Tour and the Enigma of the Visible


Georges de La Tour and the Enigma of the Visible - Description

Not rediscovered until the twentieth century, the works of Georges de La Tour retain an aura of mystery. At first sight, his paintings suggest a veritable celebration of light and the visible world, but this is deceptive. The familiarity of visual experience blinds the beholder to a deeper understanding of the meanings associated with vision and the visible in the early modern period. La Tour's emphasis on spiritual insight opens up broader artistic, philosophical, and conceptual reflections on the conditions of possibility of the pictorial medium. By scrutinizing what is seen and how, and by questioning the position of the beholder, his works revitalize critical discussion of the nature of painting and its engagements with the visible world.

Review Commentary

"to this task of uncovering the inner workings of these elusive paintings that Dalia Judovitz has acquitted herself in what can only be described as a long overdue tour de force".... "with consummate skill, Judovitz opens for her readers—through a thorough analysis of a selection of his paintings—a vista into the spiritual imagination of this mysterious artist"..."Judovitz makes a significant contribution to this field with her superb interdisciplinary study"..."there is a dearth of writing about this artist, making Judovitz’s gaze upon and inquiry of these artworks an original and profound addition to the literature on La Tour"..."for the reader unfamiliar with the biblical narratives, resonances, and inspirations behind these paintings, Judovitz offers a superb introduction to how they have been received by the artist. She has done a service to those who work at the intersection of theology, biblical studies, and the visual arts and are interested in pursuing research into La Tour’s paintings, drawing attention to the many, often subtle, biblical allusions within his art"..."This is a very readable book"... "Judovitz’s treatment of the paintings analyzed are beautifully written theological reflections"..." . I found myself searching for a major La Tour exhibition and apparently there is one this spring in Milan. I can think of no better preparation for such an event than reading this truly delightful book"

Amanda Dillon, American Association of Religion

Review available here

"This is an important book that will challenge and inform. It is beautifully illustrated with many of La Tour’s most important paintings in colour."

David Jasper, Literature & Theology

 Review: PDF available here 

"Judovitz’s densely argued, meticulously researched, and beautifully illustrated study opens the door to the broader artistic, religious, and philosophical implications of La Tour’s mysterious paintings through her insightful readings and broad interdisciplinary perspective."

Heather McPherson, Texas A&M University

 Review: PDF available here 

“A century has passed since the paintings of Georges de La Tour were rescued from near-oblivion. Yet the interest in his enigmatic achievement has never diminished. Dalia Judovitz surveys a wealth of previous writings and argues brilliantly for the significance of the new spiritual dimension that his work inhabits.” 

Stephen Bann, Bristol University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 



1. The Enigma of the Visible 

2. Spiritual Passion and the Betrayal of Painting 

3. The Visible and the Legible 

4. Flea Catching and the Vanity of Painting 

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



Selected Bibliography


Color plates 

Book Details

Includes 32 pages of color illustrations

Published: Ⓒ 2017

ISBN-13: 978-0823277445

ISBN-10: 0823277445

Ordering Information

Available in Paperback ($29.98) or Hardcover ($98.74)