Lot 108
  • 108

Jacques-Louis David Paris 1748 - 1825 Brussels

35,000 - 45,000 GBP
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  • Jacques-Louis David
  • the death of marat
  • signed and inscribed: A MARAT/DAVID
  • graphite


Angélique Mongez (1775-1855; a pupil of David);
Hippolyte Destailleur (1822-1893);
his sale, Paris, 26-27 May 1893, as part of lot 30 (Livre de croquis de Louis David; 2 250 francs to M. Salvator 'pour Carnavalet');
with Wildenstein, New York, 1953;
private collection, Buenos Aires, by 1967;
sale, Berne, Galerie Kornfeld, 18-21 June 1980, lot 235;
private collection, by 1989;
sale, London, Sotheby's, 15 June 1994, lot 43;
John R. Gaines, Gainesville, Kentucky;
purchased at the sale of his collection, New York, Sotheby's, 23 January 2001, lot 342


Montréal, Museum of Fine Arts, Five Centuries of Drawings, 1953, cat. no. 180, reproduced;
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins and Montauban, Musée Ingres, Ingres et ses Maîtres, de Roques à David, 1955, cat. no. 53A;
Paris, Musée du Louvre and Versailles, Musée Nationale du Château, Jacques-Louis David, 1989-90, cat. no. 120, reproduced (as Attributed to David)


K.E. Maison, 'Note on a Drawing by J.L. David: The Death of Marat', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 69, January 1967, reproduced;
K. Herding, 'Davids 'Marat' als dernier appel à l'unité révolutionnaire', in Idea. Jahrbuch der Hamburger Kunsthalle, vol. II, 1983, p. 92, reproduced fig. 5;
J. Traeger, Der Tod des Marat. Revolution des Menschenbildes, Munich 1986, p. 73, reproduced fig. 50;
A. Schnapper, Jacques-Louis David 1748-1825, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1989-90, p. 282, cat. no. 503;
A. Sérullaz, Dessins Français du Musée du Louvre, J.L. David, Paris 1991, p. 287, under cat. no. 229;
L. Sheldon, 'Methods and Materials of David's Marat', in W. Vaughan and H. Weston, David's The Death of Marat, Cambridge 2000, pp. 105, reproduced fig. 17, notes 8-9 (p. 124);
P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, Jacques-Louis David 1748-1825: Catalogue Raisonné des dessins, Milan 2002, vol. I, p. 329, cat. no. 355, reproduced



The drawing is in excellent condition. The paper is clear and fresh, and of a creamy colour, rather than the grey/green seen in the catalogue illustration. There is a very small loss near the upper right corner, and also another small area of loss, along part of the lower half of the right-hand side (about 4cm long and 2mm wide). However, these have both been very neatly repaired, they are barely visible, and as they are at the margins of the sheet, they do not affect the image at all. There is no foxing, no staining, and the chalk is still strong and fresh. Sold in a wooden gilded frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Originally, this drawing was included in an album, itself preserved in the Louvre, which had belonged to Madame Mongez and included many fine studes by David.  A chalk annotation on the inside of the front cover describes the contents which included the Croquis de Marat assassiné par Ch. Corday.  Along with some of the other drawings in the album, this was detached after the Destailleur sale.

Previously considered to be a study begun at the scene of Marat's death, which David visited with the future Madame Tussaud (who was taking a wax impression for Marat's death mask),1 it is in fact more likely that this is David's ricordo of the finished painting (fig. 1).  This idea has been confirmed by Rosenberg and Prat, who propose a date for the drawing of 1817-20, and suggest that it was drawn for a friend, such as Madame Mongez, by which to remember the painting, which was hidden after the fall of the first French Empire.2

David's painting the Death of Marat, now in the Louvre is surpassingly famous as an image.  The artist was given the commission - one of three such works glorifying martyrs of the Revolution executed by David - on 14 July 1793 (Marat having been assassinated the day before);  and he announced its completion on 14 October of that year.  At this time David was deeply involved in the politics of the Revolution and had allied himself closely with Robespierre;  in 1793 he had voted for the death of Louis XVI.  As president of the Jacobin cell to which Marat had belonged, David was asked to organise his funeral.  A highly dramatic night-time ceremony was the result, with the attributes of Marat's death, such as the bath and his bloodied shirt, paraded alongside his body like instruments of the Passion.3  In death, Marat became a Revolutionary martyr, and David's painting his votive image.


1. P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, see Literature, p. 329

2. P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, ibid.

3.  Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution 1760-1830, exhibition catalogue, London 2006, cat. no. 148, pp. 311-2