The Death of Marat and the French Revolution

Jacques-Louis David’s book The Death of Marat illustrates a picture of a murdered revolutionary bent in his tub. Marat is portrayed holding a quill and a paper and it seems he has been writing something before dying. Blood is seen in the scene, where Marat’s chest, the bathtub and the sheet near the body are covered with blood, (Janson & Janson, 2004). An additional ink holder, papers and quill are placed at a wooden stand where A Marat is written.

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This painting is perceived to be interesting since it poses many questions for a learner with insufficient background information about Marat and the situation around his death. Despite the painting’s connection to the French revolution, there is a need for historical understanding in order to destroy anything that might hinder the reading of this story (Janson & Janson, 2004). There is one problem that is demonstrated by this painting, the view after Marat’s death. This scene leaves the readers in suspense since they do not know whether Marat was killed or did commit suicide (Janson & Janson, 2004). The paperwork that Marat left could be understood as the last testament or the suicide note.

The painting, however, would work as a grand beginning to the preparation of the French revolution. The painting is valued as a scholarly pursuit that is widely influenced by enlightenment. The writer holds on to the belief that in order for the revolution to attain its goal, works of art should pierce the soul, as well as make a deep impression on the reader’s mind (Janson & Janson, 2004). Therefore, there is a need for the artist to study all sides of human beings as well as understand the nature thoroughly. In other terms, he ought to be a philosopher.

David’s style combined the present and past. He looked to ancient times for the manner, although noted the personal characteristics and qualities of his generation to encourage a more individual note. David used light in his work, expressive tension and spatial effect. His paintings also reflect the idea of certain political, cultural and social values (Janson & Janson, 2004).
Symbols that have been used by David illustrate the revolutionary France. The white sheet that covers Marat’s head completely and the wooden crate beside his bathtub portray the inglorious environment and poverty that Marat dwelled in. The background in Marat’s scene is dull, whereas the walls are Spartan, showing poverty among the people. David’s predisposition in painting Marat’s image shows his friendship with Marat and a fusion of appreciation and an attempt to demonstrate Marat as a sign of the revolution (Janson & Janson, 2004). Marat’s picture in the bathtub, lying motionless, and hand stretched out, is a picture of peace and tranquility. This picture is similar to the pose of sculptor Michelangelo’s masterpiece where he displays Christ, hands stretched out, as David portrayed Marat (Janson & Janson, 2004). The significance of this picture is that Marat gave himself up for the preeminent of mankind, similar to what Christ did by dying for the sins of human beings. The sheet covering Marat’s head is alike to the turban that is used by Christians to cover their heads while praying to God.

In conclusion, David was not only an artist, but a visionary; he believed that thorough exploration, experience and clinching transformation was the only way to start understanding the universe. Being a genius he found out that realism and romanticism could be traced back to the basic philosophy of his work.

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