Art Rococo, Genre and Neoclassical Thesis

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The most famous genre painting by David is undoubtedly the Death of Marat (1793) which depicts French radical Jean-Paul Marat slumped over in his bathtub while holding a letter which he obviously was writing just before being killed by Charlotte Corday. The overall narrative of this painting -- the knife/murder weapon lying on the floor, the entry wound just above Marat's heart, his right arm draped over the edge of the bathtub and the writing quill and inkwell -- are all intentionally and vividly placed details intended to "sharpen the sense of pain and social outrage" over the murder of Marat, considered as one of the pivotal rebel leaders of the French Revolution. Clearly, David the artist was attempting to illustrate his own personal feelings concerning the social decay of French culture under King Louis XVI and how rebels like Marat are not exempt from the violence of human nature, even while relaxing in a bathtub in relative safety.
Thus, the social changes which occurred during the Rococo and Neoclassical periods were clearly exemplified by painters like Chardin, Greuze and David and show that as artists, these men and others like them appeared to possess some form of immediacy related to conveying to the public through their art the cold, hard facts of society, both pleasant to the eye and disturbing to the heart and the spirit.

Works Cited

Ancien Regime Rococo." Art in European History. Internet. / avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/ancien.html. October 16, 2008.

Andersen, Liselotte. Baroque and Rococo Art. New York: H.N. Abrams Publishing, 1969.

Conisbee, Philip. French and Spanish Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

Smith, Claudia and Catheryn Cheal. Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic Art. Paris:….....

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