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Marat. L'Ami du Peuple

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (printed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1793 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Basset, Paul-André (publisher)
    Basset (publisher)
    Basset (printer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching, with hand colouring

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 1, case CA10

This image is a graphic commemoration of the Left-wing journalist and hero of the French Revolution, Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), who was murdered while in his bath by Charlotte Corday. The phrase L'Ami du Peuple was both the title of the anti-royalist newspaper that Marat published and, in effect, an epitaph awarded to him by his fellow leaders of the Revolution.

In 1789 Marat turned to journalism and began the journal that was to become ‘L’Ami de Peuple’. It was an extreme publication that he used to call for the death of Louis XVI and to attack anyone he saw as an enemy of the revolution or of Republicanism. He justified insurrection and violence if the progress of the revolution required it. Within its pages, he prophesied fifty years of anarchy and the rise of a dictator. It was very popular with the public.

In the 1790s the revolution became more anti-clerical, and sought to replace religious images and festivals with secular ones based on the new revolutionary heroes and virtues. A festival of Federation was celebrated on the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille in 1790, and the church of St Genevieve was re-established as a secular pantheon in 1791. This poster follows in this tradition, celebrating Marat as a martyr of the Revolution.

Physical description

Portrait format poster printed in colours, predominantly blue, green, red and black. Shoulder length bust of Marat wearing a white 'turban', white shirt under a blue robe lined at the collar with red. The bust lettered on its foot 'Marat' . Behind it, low horizon and what could be an landscape of hills and trees. a frame of stylised palm leaves crossed centrally on each margin with french tricolour ribands, tricolour rosettes in the four corners. Lettered beneath with details of printer or publisher.

Place of Origin

Paris (printed)


ca. 1793 (printed)


Basset, Paul-André (publisher)
Basset (publisher)
Basset (printer)

Materials and Techniques

Etching, with hand colouring

Marks and inscriptions

AParis chez Basset Rue S Jacques au coin de celle de Mathurina
Maker's identification; French; bottom of image; etching


Height: 810 mm sheet maximum, Width: 583 mm sheet maximum

Descriptive line

Print, 'L'Ami du Peuple' [The Friend of the People], hand-coloured etching of Jean Paul Marat published by Paul-André Basset, Paris, ca. 1793

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Margaret Timmer, ed. The Power of the Poster London: V&A Publications, 1998. ISBN: 1 85177 2405.
pp. 102-3
Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1993

Labels and date

Marat, Friend of the People
About 1793

The revolutionary leader and journalist Jean- Paul Marat was famous for his radical views expressed in his newspaper L’Ami du Peuple (Friend of the People). He was stabbed to death in his bath by the young Charlotte Corday in 1793. This print shows Marat crowned by stars, as a hero and martyr, in a powerful piece of visual propaganda.

France (Paris)
Hand-coloured etching


Watercolour; Printing ink


Etching; Hand colouring

Subjects depicted

Mass media; Revolution; Commemoration; Death


Propaganda; Prints; Commemoration; Death; Hats & headwear; Politics; Portraits; Propaganda


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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