Clark, Painting in the Year Two (as note 3), p. 49.


In his compelling interpretation of David’s portrait of Marat, Painting in the Year Two (in particular paragraphs §40-§44), T. J. Clark develops a number of core theses. His starting point is the quintessential novelty that characterises the political meaning of the French Revolution: «the People’s entry onto the stage of power.» [30] The political appearance of the people is accompanied by the emergence of a «new image of power» which revolves around the «question about representation», raising issues such as: who are ‘the people’? Who can speak on their behalf and what legitimises their sovereignty? Clark points out the challenges of replacing the image of the absolute king whose power is inseparable from his own pictorial representations by a new image of power, being an image of the people. The important aspect is that the image of the people cannot be identical to the image of the king’s absolute power as the ultimate representation of himself.


Ibid., p. 16.


The linchpin of both Clark’s characterisation of The Death of Marat as modern painting and his analysis of the painting’s political dimension is his interpretation of the moment of contingency which has entered «the process of picturing» [31].

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