David and Goya Lecture
Jacque Louis David's The Oath of the Horatii was painted in Rome and exhibited at the Salon
of 1785. The painting was large. The scene shows the three sons making an oath to their father to
fight for Rome. The theme is service to the country over all other private concerns. The tragic
outcome of the killed mourning woman is not focused on, rather the oath maintains the focus.
The composition is simple, rigid, and angular. The figures salute as they're about to take the
swords from the father. The woman, understanding the fate that is to come, are shown in
mourning and grief. The orthogonals recede into the father's hand. The brothers are bound
together. The theme of a heroic act is also seen in Poussin’s The Death of Germanicus. The
contrast between service and private affairs is better seen in the Oath. The painting is
nationalistic and patriotic.
During the French Revolution, the idea of loyalty to the state over an individual becomes
prominent. David becomes a member of the Jacobins, and depicts the Oath at the Tennis Court
in a sketch (the founding of the new French Republic). The Jacobins supported the creation of a
secular society by destroying Church works and adopting a new calendar.
Jacques Louis David's The Death of Marat shows Marat after