The Death of Marat (French: La Mort de Marat) is a 1793 painting in the Neoclassical style by Jacques-Louis David, and is one of the most famous paintings of the French Revolution. This work depicts the radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat lying dead in his bath on 13 July 1793 after his murder by Charlotte Corday. Corday, who was from a minor aristocratic family, blamed Marat for the September Massacres and feared an all out civil war, claimed "I killed one man to save 100,000." It has been described as the first modernist painting.
Jean-Paul Marat (May 24, 1743 – July 13, 1793), was a Swiss-born French physician, philosopher, political theorist and scientist best known as a radical journalist and politician from the French Revolution.
David was a close friend of Marat, as well as a strong supporter of Robespierre and the Jacobins. Due to his difficulty speaking (he had a benign but large facial tumor, the result of an injury sustained while fencing), David was overwhelmed by their natural capacity for convincing crowds with their speeches. Determined to memorialize his friend, David painted this portrait of Marat.
This work contains something both poignant and tender; a soul is flying in the cold air of this room, on these cold walls, around this cold funerary tub." In this case David's classicism is based not on ancient Greek or Roman sources, but Renaissance ones: Marat's lifeless arm is taken from Michelangelo's Pietain St. Peter's. The citation of a prestigious model is united with an unprecedented identification of Marat, martyr of the Revolution, with Christ, further reinforcing the ideal and moral message of the painting.
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