Marat, martyr of the Revolution

Marat, martyr of the Revolution

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Title: Marat assassinated, July 13, 1793.

Author : DAVID Jacques Louis (1748 - 1825)

Creation date : 1793

Date shown: July 13, 1793

Dimensions: Height 157 - Width 136

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.Copy made by Gioacchino Giuseppe Serangelid in David's studio from an original kept at the Brussels museumHistoric owners: David Louis; David Jules; Napoleon prince (1868); Durand-Ruel, Paris (1889); Term

Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot / C. Jean website

Picture reference: 88EE1965 / RF 1945-2

Marat assassinated, July 13, 1793.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Jean

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Jean-Paul Marat

is one of the emblematic figures of the Revolution of which he embodies the "extreme left". His famous phrase: "Nothing superfluous can legitimately belong, while others lack the necessary," reflects the core of his social thinking.

From 1789, Marat worked out a project for a constitutional monarchy. But it was above all his journalistic activity that made him famous: under the name of "the friend of the people" (title of the newspaper which succeeded the Parisian publicist, then personal nickname of Marat), he led his political fight against the king and then against the Girondins. Accused by the latter on April 14, 1793, triumphantly acquitted by the revolutionary tribunal on April 24, Marat resumed his seat in the National Assembly.

On July 13, 1793, while taking a bath to treat his eczema, he was murdered by

Charlotte corday

, a distant descendant of the poet Corneille, linked to the Girondists.

Image Analysis

On July 14, 1793, the day after Marat's death, Guirault, spokesperson for the Social Contract section, asked the painter David to immortalize Marat: “O crime! a parricidal hand has delighted us the most intrepid defender of the people. He constantly sacrificed himself for freedom. This is his package. [...] Where are you David? You have transmitted to posterity the image of Lepelletier, dying for the Fatherland, you have one painting left to paint! "

David accepted this homage and was also in charge of the setting in scene of the funeral of Marat: “It was stopped that his body would be exposed covered with a wet sheet which would represent the bathtub and which, watered from time to time, would prevent the putrefactive effect. This was the staging of the public display of Marat's body, shirtless, showing his fatal wound. The tub, inkwell, and bill were displayed at the bottom of the pedestal. These are the elements that are found in the composition of David.


Symbol of the passion of the friend of the people, this composition of David (produced to be exhibited at the Convention as well as the now missing portrait of Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau) sanctifies revolutionary martyrdom. The darned sheet, the spilled blood, the spiritual density emanating from this sort of “republican pietà”, everything contributes to provoke in the spectator, in this case the representatives of the people, a catharsis in which the sense of virtue and of l ' honor has its source in the new republican Rome heir to Cato.

Donated by David to the Convention on November 14, 1793, the original painting was exhibited in the assembly hall with that of Le Peletier on both sides of the President’s gallery. It was his political strength that had him deposed on February 9, 1795: the Revolution, in the midst of a bourgeois reaction, could no longer bear the presence of such a manifesto of heroism and abnegation. "There is in this work, will write


in 1846, something tender and poignant at the same time; [...] This painting was a gift to the grieving homeland, and our tears are not dangerous. "

  • assassinations
  • Convention
  • deputies
  • revolutionary figures
  • Marat (Jean-Paul)
  • martyr
  • portrait
  • Corday (Charlotte)


Jean-Claude BONNET (dir.), The Death of Marat, Paris, Flammarion, 1986.

Olivier COQUART, Marat, Paris, Fayard, 1993.

"Marat", in Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution, Paris, Flammarion, 1988, reed. coll. "Champs", 1992.

COLLECTIVE, The French Revolution and Europe 1789-1799, exhibition catalog, Paris, RMN, 1989.

COLLECTIVE, From David to Delacroix, exhibition catalog, Paris, Grand Palais, 1974-1975.

To cite this article

Robert FOHR and Pascal TORRÈS, "Marat, martyr of the Revolution"


Video: Murdering Marat