Living in the metropolitan area, I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and view Jacques Louis David’s neoclassical piece, The Death of Socrates. David’s work portrays Socrates in his final moments. Socrates was being put to death due to what the government thought of was corrupting young minds with his teachings (“The Death of Socrates…”). Socrates was a Greek philosopher. He has been said to be the whole reason behind Western Philosophy (“Socrates”). One of his most famous students is Plato, who can be seen in the painting as well. Socrates is embracing death, while the people surrounding him are not taking his death as easy. Since his whole life was based upon thinking and teaching others to think outside of the box, Socrates was giving his students one last lesson in loyalty. He was choosing death to preserve his dignity (Connolly, 64). Although the government was putting Socrates to death for “corrupting young minds”, Socrates believed in democracy. He was ultimately accepting of his death, no matter how hard it is for one to accept.
Neoclassicism was a modernized result of the baroque style and classical style before. The Death of Socrates was the beginning of neoclassicism. This piece evoked emotion, much like pieces from the baroque period. It was compared to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s Stanze (“The Death of Socrates – Jacques-Louis David”). It was considered one of David’s greatest pieces of work. Jacques-Louis David was considered one of the best neoclassicism artists of the time.
The Death of Socrates is one of Jacques-David most famous paintings. The oil on canvas painting was completed in 1787 in France (“The Death of ...
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...ame a painter. He had gone to art school at what is now currently The Louvre (("Jacques Louis David Biography."). The painting was on par with the political standing of the late 1780s ("Jacques Louis David Biography."). David wasn’t historically accurate with some of the symbols in The Death of Socrates. For one, Socrates was about 70 years old at the time of his death. Socrates is portrayed as a very fit older man with his abdominal muscles showing (Arts & Ideas). Also, placed at the foot of the bed was Plato. Plato is portrayed as an older man. Plato was actually younger than Socrates (Arts & Ideas).
Other than the inaccuracies, we look at this piece today as a beautiful work of art. It was one of David’s best works of art and the beginning of neoclassicism. The Death of Socrates can be summed up as a great, powerful, work of art. It has a theme of loyalty.
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