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Jean-Paul Marat (1743 - 1793)

Related: French revolution - 1793

Death of Marat (1793) - Jacques-Louis David The art historian T.J. Clark recently proposed that modern art began with The Death of Marat, completed by Jacques-Louis David in October 1793--but that is because he construes Modernism politically, as art "no longer reserved for a privileged minority." --Arthur Danto


Jean-Paul Marat (May 24, 1743 July 13, 1793), was a Swiss-born scientist and physician, who made much of his career in England, but is best known as a French Revolutionary. A member of the radical Jacobin faction during the French Revolution, he helped to launch the Reign of Terror.

From a relatively early date, Marat advocated doing away with the monarchy and raged against more moderate revolutionary leaders. In July 1790 he wrote "Five or six hundred heads cut off would have assured your repose, freedom and happiness. A false humanity has held your arms and suspended your blows; because of this millions of your brothers will lose their lives". He approved of the September 1792 massacres of jailed "enemies of the Revolution" and established the "Committee of Surveillance" whose role was to root out antirevolutionaries. Marat composed the death lists from which the innocent and the guilty alike were executed.

He was killed in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday in 1793. Madame Corday was a Girondin and her action provoked reprisals in which thousands of enemies of the Jacobins -- royalists and Girondins alike -- were executed on supposed charges of treason. Corday herself was guillotined on July 17, 1793 for the murder. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Marat [Mar 2005]

See also: French revolution

Marat / Sade (1966) - Peter Brook

Marat / Sade (1966) - Peter Brook [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Amazon.com essential video
In 1964, German playwright Peter Weiss wowed the international theater scene with his Berlin production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. An instant sensation, the play caught the attention of iconic theater director Peter Brook, whose own stage production captivated audiences in New York the next year. Brook then filmed his production in 1966, and the resulting movie, Marat/Sade, stands as one of the best-loved screen adaptations of a play, by both critics and theater fans alike. (The 1996 film Quills is a good example of the story's lasting resonance.) As can be surmised by the play's original title, the action focuses on the Marquis de Sade (Patrick Magee) circa 1808, who, while imprisoned at Charenton Asylum, writes and directs a play starring his fellow inmates. Dramatizing the final hours of French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat (Ian Richardson) before he was killed by Charlotte Corday (Glenda Jackson, in one of the defining moments of her career), de Sade offers the play as an entertaining whim for the tiny audience of asylum director Coulmier (Clifford Rose) and his family. Utilizing the "theatre of cruelty" theory of avant-garde pioneer Antonin Artaud--once an asylum inmate himself--Brook's presentation of Marat/Sade confronts with jagged language, sounds and visuals, in an attempt to shock the movie audience into dissatisfaction and action against the status quo, mirroring the way de Sade's play within the film stirs the asylum inmates to high dudgeon and revolution. --Heather Campbell

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