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The Death of Marat

Jacques-Louis David paintedThe Death of Marat in 1793 with the objective of describing the life of Marat. The painter did the work as a tribute to his friend who gained prominence as a revolutionary propagandist. The creation depicts Marat as a martyr and a protagonist who rapidly gained an iconic view of the French Revolution.[1] The artist achieved this by incorporating all the features widely utilized in religious productions of the lamentation of Jesus Christ, or features of martyrdom. The paper explores various key issues relating to the painting that is still instrumental in understanding the life of some of the past heroes. It examines how the painting illustrates the life of the revolutionist while paying attention to the meaning of some of the features that appear in the artistic work. The writing also describes the place and manner in which Marat was killed, thus illuminating on this incident that attracted national and global focus. The analysis examines factors such as the meanings of triangular stab wound and vertical blood movement, the knife with blood-stained triangular blood, as well as looking at his defenseless posture. Also part of this essay is how the work gives a hint about the person who murdered Marat and his relationship with the painter. Examining the note of introduction from Charlotte Corday and evaluating the effectiveness of its date, and securitizing the meaning of the inscription on the gravestone like shape. The Death of Marat is both disturbing and striking and signifies the close relationship the painter had with the man associated with the French revolution.

The Painting Informs Viewers of the Life of Marat

Taking a closer view of the painting provides much information about Marat. Hence, this section critically examines some of the features that are evident in the painting. Each of these elements have symbolic meanings that may require a critical view of the work to get clear impression. Nonetheless, disregarding some of the elements, as much as they may appear to be insignificant, could distort the meaning and intention of David’s art.

Meaning of Head Wrap and Bathtub

Viewers can identify a head wrap and bathtub in the painting, which signify that the revolutionist was possibly sick when he met his death and possibly suffered from headaches. The bathtub suggests that Marat was not in a position to show in the same way many people do and opted to use an option that would not cause him much pressure or lead him to strain.[2] Furthermore, it is uncommon for one to have a head wrap when taking bath, and by having the wrapper on indicates that Marat could be suffering from headache and having the cover on would help to manage the condition. It is likely that Marat was unwell at the time of his death, an indication that further indicates how maybe the killer targeted him at crucial point when he would least likely put up resistance.

Meaning of the Death Warrant

The death warrant in Marat’s possession confirms his indulgence as a revolutionist. The warrant depicts that Marat was in charge of signing death warrants for those who presented the document to him. However, the warrant could have other symbolic meanings as well. For instance, it could imply that because the one presented in the art oversaw the death of others, his own would come. Hence, the warrant in this instance signifies death and that is what befalls Marat.

The Painting shows Marat was Human

Marat was immortal like any other being and inflicting pain as it happens to him in this painting could not spare his life. The position of the wound is so crucial because that appears to be right above the chest. Thus, Marat succumbs to the attack just like any other person would d, especially if the attack goes beyond manageable limits.   

The Painting shows how Marat was Killed

Further analysis of the artistic work gives valuable information regarding how Marat was assassinated. Paying considerable attention to this area gives clear insight into what exactly happened, thus helping to clear the air on some issues that have raised much controversy. The follow description sheds

Meaning of Triangular Stab and Vertical Blood Flow

An assessment of the body reveals it has a triangular stab wound and a vertical blood flow, thus suggesting that the revolutionist was murdered in the bathtub and no one or nothing has changed the position of the corpse since after the death occurred. The scene suggests that no official has arrived to assess the incident, a scenario that paints a painful view. The developer of the painting in this case manages to use pathos, which is a rhetoric appeal aiming at drawing emotions in a bid to persuade the audience.[3] The possible intention for using this technique is to evoke feelings of anger and pity in the audience. Specifically, the audience become angered by the death and how nothing has happened to salvage the situation. Besides, employing pathos helps to achieve empathy, which puts audience in the shoe of the art creator. The signing death warrants further reinstates that no one has touched the body since the killing occurred, a possibility that the killer must have targeted a time when his actions would not draw quick and unwanted attention.

Meaning of Kitchen Knife with Bloody Triangular Blood

A kitchen knife lies on the flow, which suggests that it was the tool that the killer used to take away the life of Marat. Besides, it is apparent that the bloody knife was used in the killing because its shape resembles that of the stub wound.[4] The realization is likely to make the work easier for those who would look into the case. The presence of the knife suggests that big blunder on the part of the killer, because this makes it easier for investigators to inquire the matter and possibly get the chance to arrest the violator. The inclusion of the knife gives an impression of the common tool used to kill people during the time the art was developed. Technology had not developed and coming across innovations such as guns was nearly impossible.

Defenseless Posture

It is apparent that Marat did not do much to defend himself from the attacker. He lies helplessly in the bathtub while holding a quill on one hand and a letter on the other. Therefore, the painting reassures that the attacker caught the victim by surprise.

The Painting Depicts those who Committed the Murder and Illustrates David’s Relationship with Marat

The audience can identify other elements in the art that are equally essential in understanding its details. Taking a finder view of the art provides valuable information regarding the person who killed Marat. The review also gives valuable awareness about the close relationship between the artist and the one who appears in the work. The following subtopics shed more light into the one who was behind the killing, and describe the relationship that have existed between the two.

Note of Introduction from Charlotte Corday

Charlotte Corday’s note of introduction implies that the one responsible for the death of Marat was found at the scene, but was issued the note of introduction. However, the information does not provide specific information regarding the one behind the attack, which only leaves the audience to speculate who might be behind the chilling incident.[5] However, investigators can at least understand that the killer entered the room and committed the act on the very spot where the death occurred.

Significance of the Date of Note

According to the letter, it was dated July 13th, which indicates that the killing happened on that day. Hence, those looking into the matter should base their inquiry on the date indicated on the letter.[6] Otherwise, disregarding the date could deprive those looking into the matter, including the audience valuable information regarding the whole incident.

Significance of the Inscription on the Gravestone

A box with a gravestone like shape stands next to the bathtub that has some inscription on it. The writing reads “For Marat”, which suggests that the developer of the work valued Marat and possibly enjoyed closer relationship than many knew. It is possible that Marat had close ties with the artist because the latter was a prominent member of the French Revolution who at one time got the chance to serve as its leader. Hence, the artist in developing the art was rewarding his fallen friend in a way that he thought befits him – through the creation of a masterpiece that still attract much attention even in the modern time.


The Death of Marat is a painting that depicts the close relationship between the painter and the renowned revolutionist whose impact was largely felt during the French Revolution. It is easier to get a clearer view of this art by examining specific details some which may appear insignificant or negligible. The review suggests that the killer must have targeted Marat at a time when he was feeling unwell and could not put up much resistance. Furthermore, Marat has a death warrant in hands, which serves as foreshadow for his own death other than depicting how he signed the warrant of other people. The paper describes how looking at the art one gets an impression on the manner in which the death occurred. The body lying on the bathtub, triangular stab wound, and vertical blood flow reveals that the body has not been moved since the killing occurred. Further analysis indicates that a knife was used to commit the murder because the shape of the wound resembles that of the knife. A critical look at the painting and engaging some level of critical thinking gives information about the possible killer, and reveals that the painter had close ties with Marat. Overall, it is possible to understand the life of the French revolutionist and telling what resulted in his death by looking at the artwork. The work passes fundamental lessons to the audience and artists. The audience learns that it is possible to narrate a story through images without adding words or speech sound. Artists, on the other hand, learn the values of creating works that carry certain meanings, and which require viewers to deploy critical thinking to acquire their real meanings. Consequently, one must deploy critical thinking skills each time they seek to evaluate a piece of art regardless of its medium.


“The Death of Marat: Analysis and Curious Facts.” The Art Post Blog | Art and Artists Italian Blog, 1 Nov. 2021,

Reading the information on this site provides awareness on the hidden meanings in the painting. Thus, it is appropriate for analyzing the art and knowing why the painter chose to use certain forms to bring out the message.

Vidalenc, Jean. “Jean-Paul Marat.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

The source gives the history of Marat and his engagement in the French Revolution. It is helpful in this case because it provides hint on what led to the revolutionist’s death.

Visual Analysis: “Death or Assassination of Marat by Jacques–Louis David, 1793” Explained, 22/07/12, Giulia’s Blog,

The website provides information that helps to understand the circumstances surrounding Marat’s death. Hence, its content and scope makes it relevant for this assignment.

[1] “The Death of Marat: Analysis and Curious Facts.” The Art Post Blog | Art and Artists Italian Blog, 1 Nov. 2021,

[2] “The Death of Marat: Analysis and Curious Facts.”

[3] Visual Analysis: “Death or Assassination of Marat by Jacques–Louis David, 1793” Explained, 22/07/12, Giulia’s Blog,

[4] Visual Analysis: “Death or Assassination of Marat by Jacques–Louis David,

[5] Jean Vidalenc. “Jean-Paul Marat.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

[6] Ibid

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