The Death of Marat Painting

who was Jacques-Louis David?

Jacques-Louis David was a French Neoclassical painter; his date of birth was August 30, 1748, and he died December 29, 1825. He was born in Paris, France, and started painting at an early age.

contextual analysis

It’s believed that Jacques-Louis David painted The Death of Marat as a “tribute” to the murdered political figure of Jean-Paul Marat, who was also a journalist and writer.


subject matter

The Death of Marat depicts the lifeless body of Jean-Paul Marat lying in his bath; his upper body is slightly slouched over the bath’s edge, his head, which is topped with a white turban, is limp.


There are numerous implied textures that Jacques-Louis David created through his brushwork, which also create contrasting effects.


The color scheme in The Death of Marat consists mostly of neutral hues like the whites of the turban, cloth, paper, and quills, the green of the cloth over the bath, the brown from the wooden crate, and flesh tone of Marat’s skin.


There are a variety of implied lines created by the subject matter leading us (the viewers) to gaze around the composition, with a specific focus on Marat and the knife on the floor. For example, the vertical lines from the folds of the white and green cloth near Marat’s hanging arm.


Space is composed of the main subject matter in the foreground, more specifically in what is called the “shallow” foreground. The background is neutral and in a dark hue, which creates a backdrop effect for the figure in the foreground.

shape & form

Jacques-Louis David created a naturalistic composition in terms of form, in other words, the figure of Marat is depicted in a realistic manner and muscularly defined, as was also characteristic of Neoclassical paintings of the time.