November 15th, 2008 - Starry, starry mash-up

Before I explain a little about today's project, I have to allude to one of those weird little sychronicities that pop-up now and again. As you may or may not remember, one of the subjects in my last diatribe was the head of one Charlotte Corday, which was purported to show an "expression of unequivocal indignation" after being decapitated by the guillotine and her cheek being slapped as the executioner held it up for the crowd. 
Strangely enough, last night I was looking for a new "iGoogle" theme to put up on my page, searching for something by my favorite artists: Dali, Matisse, Van Gogh, Monet, and the like, and being a little disappointed that there wasn't even a Van Gogh background attempted yet.
Then I began thinking about this famous painting I remembered from High School history class (maybe the ONLY thing I got out of High School history class, except for a love of Lewis & Clark tales).
It was a painting of this guy that was stabbed in the bathtub, and I remember I was very taken with it as a student, I scanned it very closely and was very impressed and probably should have been listening to Mr. Verbos droning on about the French Revolution or some such rot, but I couldn't seem to keep my eyes off of it.
I kept thinking it was by Manet, and I was searching and Googling all over the web and nothing was coming up except grisly bathtub murders and stories about mummified bathtub victims in Phoenix. Finally after the right combination of enough descriptive keywords, I came up with it:

It's actually called "Death of Marat", painted by the artist Jacques-Louis David in 1794. It pretty much trashes the "Rule of Thirds", which I can appreiciate, plus has this incredible realism.
David was a close friend of Marat, as well as a strong supporter of Robespierre and the Jacobins to whom Marat was prominently associated. Marat was the writer of the radical newspaper L'Ami du peuple (The Friend of the People) with all this outspokenness happening during the "Reign of Terror" also known as the French Revolution.
Marat just happened to be stabbed on July 13 while writing in his bathtub by none other than our unshamefaced Charlotte Corday, who was a supporter of the more moderate Girondist faction. She came to Paris obsessed with the idea of killing the man she perceived as a "beast", in order to save France. She was able to approach him under the guise of "reporting traitors to the cause" of the Revolution. She just happened to forget to report herself evidently.
Later the artist David was also killed as a martyr for the cause on what was perceived as "a trumped-up charge" back then. Ah, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
My weirdness was that I had never heard of Charlotte Corday before yesterday, there she was again, the cause behind one of my favorite paintings.

This morning however it was all about Van Gogh, which went with the very melancholy Van Gogh-like weather we've been having lately. I started poking around and came up with public-domain copies of Starry Night (and yes, Don McLean DID write "Vincent - Starry, Starry Night" as a tribute to the Man) and a version of the same painting done later by Van Gogh in ink.
I liked both of them so much and wanted to see them both at the same time, so I cut the oil painting off at the skyline and shopped-in the resized pen & ink as the bottom. (Click for larger)
I also found an image of a VG's "Self-portrait with Hat" and morphed that into his moon in the upper-right corner. He's kind of scowling down at me as the Man in the Moon, which is probably fitting, as well as cursing me in Dutch and spitting all over the place. 
I like it. I wonder what Van Gogh would do if he had the tools we have. Maybe some day I'll do something with the other two parts or both of the drawings together. 
Adieu, Vincent. Thank you.

3 comments:

buthidae said...

Hey, I resent the unkind words about the fresh mummies regularly found in my fair city, but the Van Gogh fakery is pretty cool.

Here's a book you might enjoy, full of gross dead body stuff, and written without too much western moral or religious bias: Mary Roach, "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers"

dignature said...

My apologies, the mummies weren't "regularly" found in your fairly twisted city, they were just found at odd intervals, like this one in February: http://www.kpho.com/news/15272829/detail.html
Thank you for the compliment and book referral, I have found it in our library system, and as an audiobook no less. It's requested and should be on deck after my current pot-boiler, "In Secret Service", by Mitch Silver (eh, shmeh), and "Collapse", by Jared Diamond. Good thing we have some long drives coming up.
Say, did you know that in the early nineteenth century mummification was becoming so popular and common that finding a place to put all the recently mummified mummerati was becoming an issue. Later there turned up some cases where on some of the trans-continental trains, a few mummies "disappeared" when the trains ran low on fuel (coal) during a long cold journey. Evidently the mummies wrapped in gauze saturated with coal-tar gave the boiler-keepers an idea...

Sort of a land-based alternative to a Viking Funeral.

dignature said...

Buthidae -
I am reading (I.E. - Listening to) your book recommendation, "Stiff - The interesting lives of human cadavers." What a great book! She could have gotten a Pulitzer if she would have kept her sense of humor out of it. But I'm glad she didn't.
It's been a good book for me, in more ways than one. Contrary to my posts, I have a real phobia about body trauma (especially my own) and the book has been a good desensitization experience. My problem is, invasive medicine really freaks me out, but I am so damned interested in it! People's feelings about how cadavers are treated are amazing. It really makes you question a lot of our religious, philosophical, and realistic beliefs. Thanks for recommending it.
Where did you come across it, if I might ask...?