Monday, September 23, 2019

CSI: The Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat

Jacques-Louis David - La mort de Marat - 1793

I label this post as being political art. I might have almost equally called it historical art. That's because the paintings shown here deal with a political assassination -- yet the majority of the images were created several decades later, not in the full heat of political passion. (Well, one of them has retrospective passion. And I note that the Revolution was still a point on contention in France even 200 years after it happened.)

The subjects are Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), a man with a scientific background who mostly sided with the more bloodthirsty idealists of French Revolutionary times. His assassin, Charlotte Corday (1768-1793), was aligned with the more moderate Girondins, but felt compelled to eliminate Marat.

By far the most famous painting dealing with event was by David, shown at the top of this post. Other, little-known works, are below, in the Gallery.


Jean-Jacques Hauer - Meurtre de Marat, le 13 juillet 1793, par Charlotte Corday - 1793-94
This is the other near-contemporary painting. Unlike David's, it portrays both participants. It is the only one that clearly depicts the bathtub Marat used to ease the discomfort of his rare skin disease.

Paul-Jacques-Aime Baudry - L'Assassinat de Marat - 1861
Painted during the Second Empire when Marat was in disfavor. Here Corday is the main subject.

Santiago Rebbull - La muerte de Marat - 1875
This is by a Mexican painter and strikes me as being politically neutral: Marat is in agony and Corday seems to think he deserves it.

Jean-Joseph Weerts - Marat assassiné - 1880
Painted nearly 90 years after the event, Weerts' image is pro Marat and the Revolution.

Jules-Charles Aviat - Charlotte Corday et Marat (Etude préparatoire pour le tableau du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen) - 1880
Although signed, this painting has Marat sketched in, the primary subject being Charlotte Corday.


Anonymous said...

Deep are the eyes of Charlotte in the version by Jules-Charles Aviat. Remorse? Probably. Incomprehension? Maybe. Understanding of the political events? Maybe not.

I wonder if this post was influenced by current political events in the US.

Sorry for my English.

Kind regards,


Donald Pittenger said...

Francisco -- No connection at all in my mind regarding this subject and current USA politics.