La Mort de Marat [The Death of Marat]
© Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2010

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La Mort de Marat [The Death of Marat] 1934
This print was included as a loose frontispiece in Benjamin Péret’s book, ‘De Derrière les Fagots’, published in 1934. The subject comes from Jacques-Louis David’s celebrated neo-classical painting, ‘The Death of Marat’. The theme may relate to Picasso’s complicated love life, with the dying figure representing his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, while the screaming killer, wielding a hefty knife, could be his wife Olga. The violent subject matter has a close parallel with slightly earlier works by the surrealist artist André Masson. The smudged, coloured patches were probably added by a monotype technique. This would have been done by wiping the inked copper plate with gouache or coloured ink, and then printing it. In this way, the colouring on each print would have been unique.

Glossary Open


An illustration at the front of a book, usually opposite the title page.


Usually refers to watercolour mixed with white pigment that retains the fluidity of the former but without the transparency. The term body-colour is also used.


A printmaking technique in which an artist draws or paints onto a flat glass or metal surface and then presses paper onto the image to make an impression. A method for producing single, unique prints.


The revival of ancient Greek and Roman models of art and architecture, with particular importance put on simplicity and discipline. Such ideals have been revived at various points in history and contrast with more decadent and dynamic styles such as the Baroque.


An image pressed or stamped onto paper or fabric. This encompasses a wide variety of techniques, usually produced in multiples, although one-off prints, known as monoprints, are also included. The term is also applied to photographic images.


A literary and artistic movement founded by the poet André Breton in 1924. Many of the associated artists, such as Max Ernst and Jean Arp, had previously been involved with Dadaism. The movement sought to challenge conventions through the exploration of the subconscious mind, invoking the power of dreams and elements of chance. Cultural hierarchies were challenged by the combination of diverse elements in collages and sculptural assemblages. The movement is also notable for the collaborations between artists and writers evident in the Surrealists' many publications.

Frontispiece, Gouache, Monotype, Neo-classicism, Print, Surrealism


  • Acc. No. GMA 4075
  • Medium Drypoint and gouache on paper
  • Size 13.50 x 10.60 cm (paper 20.30 x 15.10 cm)
  • Credit Bequeathed by Gabrielle Keiller 1995