The portrait depicts the slain Marat holding his murderer’s letter of introduction and the knife that had been used to kill him just next to his bathtub.
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In the picture of the return of the sons of Brutus, there is the depiction of a grieving leader (Brutus) mourning his sons whose execution he had ordered after they had tried to overthrow the government.
Comparing the emotional impacts of both pictures
Comparing the emotional impacts of both pictures, it is realized that both pictures carry a similar message, that of a demise of a person revered by others. On one hand, we have the family of Brutus who witnesses the death of their sons at the hands of their father while the other is one where David tells the story of his close friend and revolutionists Jean-Paul Marat. These two pictures elicit different yet similar emotions. The grief of the Brutus household is depicted in the picture where the presence of other family members as present enhances the feeling of sadness more as compared to the presentation on the death of Marat where no one else is there to be a party to his death. The fact that Marat died in loneliness somehow reduces the pain compared to the pain that Brutus had in having to order the killing of his blood. The presence of his wife and daughters does not make it any easier on his conscience as a father, having to explain his decision to his family through the nationalist in him speaks otherwise. In addition, the fallen hand of Marat in the picture is likened to the solemn composure of Brutus as his son’s corpses are brought in despite his wailing family. The emotional atmosphere that is shown in both pictures is unique in the sense that both audiences are expected to observe and at the same time be part of the life of the major characters like Brutus and Marat. This has been necessitated by the fact that both paintings employed the use of present political situations to generate their content without attempting to transmute it in any way.
Similarities with Brutus family
The audiences experience similar guilt to Brutus’ family where one considers what could have possibly been done to change the turn of events. Maybe someone could have been with Marat, maybe someone could have been chosen to die for Brutus’ sons or the law could have been changed. The element of guilt is also brought out by the fact that in both paintings, the instigators of death are depicted as being in the scene as their victims. It is said that Corday did not flee after killing Marat and Brutus also just sits at the same place as the corpses of the sons are brought in. The fact that both paintings alluded to the religious history of the audiences further made their experiences similar. By presenting Marat’s fatal gash caused by the killer’s knife and the open presentation of Brutus’ sons was an allusion to the death of Christ on the cross; this was seen in the presentation of blood in both paintings. The audiences also felt the shift from common religious discourses to more contemporary representations of art where David tried to find revolutionary martyrs in place for the Christian martyrs. Brutus’ sons and even Marat are people who die in the cause of seeking to change the powers that be just as the catholic martyrs had sought to advance their policies. In this age of romanticism, David plays to the emotions of the audience by using blood in both paintings. The audiences are thus both joined in the action where the painter appeals to their emotional disposition towards the subject matter. The inability to do anything to influence the outcome of events likens the state of Brutus’ family to the audience in the death of Marat who is also found helpless.