Death of Marat Jacques-Louis David's Term Paper

Total Length: 1661 words ( 6 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 2

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This painting is David's masterpiece and one of the great curiosities of modern art because, by a strange feat, it has nothing trivial or vile. What is most surprising in this very unusual visual poem is that it was painted very quickly. When one thinks of the beauty of the lines, this quickness is bewildering. This is food for the strong, the triumph of spiritualism. This painting is as cruel as nature but it has the fragrance of ideals. Where is the ugliness that hallowed Death erased so quickly with the tip of his wing? Now Marat can challenge Apollo. He has been kissed by the loving lips of Death and he rests in the peace of his metamorphosis. 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.

As Baudelaire is considered by many to be the father of Modernism, it is both prescient and generous of him to characterize David's painting as a work of "modern" art.

It is largely thanks to the Death of Marat that David is now regarded as one of the great painters of the French Revolution.
This painting also has the distinction of being the only one of David's three "revolution martyr" paintings to have survived. 1793's the Death of Lepeletier would be destroyed in the Thermidorian events. David would not live to finish the Death of Bara.

The Death of Marat would go on to be cherished by many artists in the 20th century. Picasso rendered his homage to David's great painting by creating his own version of it. Peter Weiss would also pay homage to the painting in his play Marat / Sade.

Currently, the Death of Marat can be found in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, although copies of the painting, created in the revolutionary fervor that followed its unveiling, are on display in museums throughout France.


Simon, Robert. 1991. David's Martyr-Portrait of Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau and the conundrums of Revolutionary Representation. Art History 14 (4): 459-487.

Vaughan, William, and Helen….....

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