The Other Marat

Don McCunn

Joined September 2012

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Artist's Description

The subject of Jacques-Louis David’s painting, “Death of Marat,” Jean-Paul Marat, was a radical journalist and politician during the French Revolution. Suffering violent itching from a skin disease he probably contracted while hiding in the sewers of Paris, he frequently sought the comfort of a cold bath, and he laid a board across the tub to serve as his desk.

Marat was writing at this desk when Charlotte Corday called on the pretext of giving him information about his enemies’ activities. Over his wife’s worried protests, Marat admitted Corday, who thrust a five-inch kitchen knife into his chest. Within minutes, he died from massive bleeding.

In memorializing his friend’s death, the artist chose to leave out the women and to portray the knife lying on the floor instead of in Marat’s chest. There is also no blood.

“The Other Marat” considers the fate of his wife.

(Excerpt from the book “Revisiting the Classics.”)

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