The portrait of Marat encapsulates the artist’s grief, political fervour and artistic abilty. It is a personal homage to his friend, as seen by an inscription on the side of a make shift desk. ’ A marat David’ Find brushwork in the corpse. The artist has striped the painting to its bare essentials in which the artist created a powerful and moving image with a tragic solemnity of the Pieta. A gruesome subject to depict. The artist has commorated an event.
Created a portrait of a martyr. A dying man in a graceful and heroic pose against a stark setting.
In his hand he holds a bloody note. This reminds us of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Three quarters of the gray-brown bathtub is covered by a wooden board. The background, shades of gray, is entirely bare. Warm yellow light further softens the horror of the scene. Formal Analysis of The Death of Marat – Orthogonal construction: gift of eternity and no death – Writing: the way to stop time – The money: way to understand how Marat helped poor people – Dark background: death darkness, but Marat survives, though a man dies his public image is eternal.
The darkness is behind the protagonist, and we can feel the gaze of Marat! So (for David) Marat lives forever. Composition To understand this artwork there are essentially two aspects to consider: first the style used by David, i. e. Neo-classicism, and secondly the artist’s purpose, i. e. turning Marat into a hero of high moral virtues according to the classical tradition. Neoclassicism as the name says was essentially a rediscovery of classical art from the Greek and Roman time.
This style prescribed rigorous contours, sculptured forms, and polished surfaces and was based on ideals of harmony and austerity. The composition is in fact arranged according to the classical principle of the golden section, a combination of horizontal lines (the bathtub edges, the top of the side table and the ledge where Marta’s head is resting) and vertical lines (the side table, the folds of the white cloth and the imaginary line that passes through Marat’s nose, down his right arm continuing in the fold of the cloth just under his elbow).
Horizontal lines suggest a feeling of rest or repose because objects parallel to the earth are at rest . Quill pen and inkwell symbolize Marat’s work as a journalist while on the paper he is holding there is the date of his death and the name of the murderer. Obviously these last two details are David’s additions to support his propaganda. Space Despite being based on an actual event, David has carefully planned the scene. This painting is not concerned with realism, it is not meant to be a snapshot of how things went.
We could say that David presents us with a “carefully staged death” as in theatre. The sense of space is reduced to a minimum as David is not preoccupied with the rendering of a perfect perspective of a room but he is rather interested in idealising Marat. The artwork is quite big (162cm x 128cm) as it was intended as an official commemorative painting. We know Marat had a skin condition and the only relief he could get was to lay in a bath from where he also used to work. The scene should then be set in a Marat’s bathroom.
However, the room painted by David has nothing of a real bathroom: we can see just a bathtub. We do not know what is in the rest of the room, there is no door and no window. The back wall is empty and blocks the viewer’s eyes forcing him to focus on Marat in the foreground. Linear perspective is reduced to a minimum and can be seen for example in the representation of the tub which obviously needs to have a certain depth to host Marat’s body. Form Marat’s body has no sign of the skin condition affecting him as David wanted instead to idealize his subject.
Marat is shown in a classical position with his right arm and head taking opposed directions. It is reminiscent of Jesus’ position in the Descent from the cross by Van der Weyden (picture below). The subject, although realistically depicted remains lifeless in a rather supernatural and monumental composition. Even David’s signature and dedication to Marat are done as a stone engraving typical of monuments. Marat’s body is partially lit by a light coming from the left as visible by the shadows on Marat’s torso and the shadow created by the piece of paper he holds.
It is not possible to tell where this light comes from: rather than natural light it represents a kind of divine light illuminating a martyr. The body is rendered as a solid and detailed form where you can see the muscles. His right arm is also painted with a careful modulation of colour hues, possible when using oil paintings as in this case. The backward part of the right arm is shown in full light but as you move towards the right it becomes brownish as that part is not illuminated, suggesting the roundness of the form. Colour For Marat outline was more important than colours.
The scene is in fact carefully drawn in sober tones. The more brilliant colours are the white of the cloths, the green of the bathtub top and the yellow-brown of the side table. Despite being a murder scene, there is just a tiny little splash of red to represent blood as the painting was not meant to be dramatic and gruesome. Colours are quite saturatedadding a solid consistence to the surfaces. Marat’s body could in fact well be of marble, with the bathtub representing also metaphorically stone grave. | http://www. pbs. org/powerofart|
Chart Activity Sheet COMPOSITION| COLOR/SHADE| LIGHT| ICONOGRAPHY| Detailed realism Expansive barren background dominates the top half of the painting and Marat the lower half Marat’s limp arms stress and balance the sharp horizontal and vertical planes of the lower half of the painting Softness in the forms of cloth and flesh on the viewer’s left side of the painting contrast but balance with the hardness of the right side in the forms of a covered board and a wooden table| Muted colors of browns, greens and grey-yellow combine to create a sober atmosphere
Stark contrasts of light and shade throughout the composition| Overall contrasts of light and shade add to the tragic nature of the image Clear light bathes Marat’s peaceful face| Unclothed body has associations with the unclothed renditions of heroes from the classical mythology and history Pen and ink represents Marat as a thinker and leader of the Revolution Peaceful face with closed eyes and sweet subtle smile portrays Marat as pure and noble or even saint-like The wooden box represents Marat as and a man of the common people
Barren background represents the great loss of Marat for the French people A knife on the floor and the petition in Marat’s hand represents the deceit and actions of the murderess| | | http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=PY2EqAKpKzg Marat is dying: his eyelids droop, his head weighs heavily on his shoulder, his right arm slides to the ground. His body, as painted by David, is that of a healthy man, still young. The scene inevitably calls to mind a rendering of the “Descent from the Cross. The face is marked by suffering, but is also gentle and suffused by a growing peacefulness as the pangs of death loosen their grip. David has surrounded Marat with a number of details borrowed from his subject’s world, including the knife and Charlotte Corday’s petition, attempting to suggest through these objects both the victim’s simplicity and grandeur, and the perfidy of the assassin. The petition (“My great unhappiness gives me a right to your kindness”), the assignat Marat was preparing for some poor unfortunate (“you will give this assignat to that mother of five children whose usband died in the defense of his country”), the makeshift writing-table and the mended sheet are the means by which David discreetly bears witness to his admiration and indignation. The face, the body, and the objects are suffused with a clear light, which is softer as it falls on the victim’s features and harsher as it illuminates the assassin’s petition. David leaves the rest of his model in shadow. In this sober and subtle interplay of elements can be seen, in perfect harmony with the drawing, the blend of compassion and outrage David felt at the sight of the victim. The painting was presented to the Coinvention on 15 November 1793.
It immediately the object of extravagant praise; one critic claimed “the face expresses a supreme kindness and an exemplary revolutionary spirit carried to the point of sacrifice. ” Background and light The portrait of Marat is stark and uncompromising. The background is black and emphasis is placed on the dying figure, which is painted as if lit by spotlight. A warm light falls on Marat’s face and shoulders, infusing him with sympathy and a halo-like glow. A harsher, almost clinical light shines on Corday’s letter, possibly signifying the artist’s judgement of the murderer.
David painted Marat with a reverence which is visible in the dying man’s relaxing facial features and his right arm, which seems to be drifting to the ground. Only his hands retain any trace of tension: the left still holds Corday’s letter and the right grasps his pen. The bloodied knife lies on the floor, partially obscured by shadow, but the pen catches the light and forms a strong vertical axis, suggesting that it is indeed mightier than the sword. Marat’s posture strongly recalls a deposition (Christ’s descent from the cross).
Cite this Overview of Painting “Death of Marat”
Overview of Painting “Death of Marat”. (2016, Sep 13). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/death-of-marat/