When I was visiting the Metropolitan Museum, a drawing about death attracted my attention because the stillness of it”Death of Socrates, stands about 129.5cm ?—196.2cm by oil painting, which is drawn by Jacques-Louis David in French,1787; depicts a tragic picture”Socrates, who was sentenced to death by the people of Athens, is preparing to drink the poison around his friends. It contains most characters from Neo-Classicism and brings solemn narratives.
a beam of sunlight is shot from the cracks of the door so that the characters in the painting stand out from the dark background. David often uses different colors to express the emotions and the drawing just transfer the tragedy and ceremonial silence. The whole construction of the drawing is diagonal and all the color is 3 primary color. The topic is about a famous historical event. Nevertheless, the depicting of the drawing just stopped in the most exciting moment to enlarge the emotions transferred by the author. All the features just indicates the transformations during the Neo-Classical period.
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Socrates, wearing a white robe, sat on the bed, and his face was more idealism than the impact that was preserved to the contemporary situation; one hand is trying to touch with a cup of poisonous juice and the other hand bent, pointing to the top, or even the sky. One hand is trying to express the grim and ridicules of the government and the other is about freedom and yearn of philosophy. It is not difficult to understand the importance of the death of Socrates to the rule of law in the West: perhaps the law will be straightforward for a while, but there is only one law in the secular city, and everyone must abide by it. The people of Athens can guarantee the rule of law only if everyone follows the law. In this sense, Socrates must die because the laws of Athens need to survive. however, the persistence of philosophy is conducted by Socrates to every student at that time and finally leaned by younger generations. Socrates is preaching a philosophical perspective, while at the same time, he picks up the poison cup that will end his life. This action just symbolizes the obedience to the Athenian law, and his insisting about his faith”improve the spread of philosophical thinking, and finally promote the progress of social structure.
Socrates was short, bearded, bald, and walked in a strange way. his flat nose, big mouth, messy eyebrows and a pair of swollen eyes indicates he is an old man. He always wears old clothes and walks barefoot. His disregard for the heat and cold, regardless of hunger and thirst and there are no negative or sad emotions on his face, but full of philosophical discussions and teaching students. Socrates does not greedy for wealth and power so all his impacts are all like a poor guy. However, from the drawing, we can understand he is investigating the genuineness the world and trying his best to teach the world a new way of consideration.
Socrates is surrounded by disciples and friends of different ages. Most of them show depression and sadness. A young man holding the cup turned his head and couldn’t bear to look at the last time, holding his lowered head with his hand. A middle-aged man reached for the left leg of Socratesthey are sad not only because of the death of friends, but also the missing of philosophical exploration. some people are still devoting themselves into communicating with Socrates, regarding of the death is coming soon. The comprehension from Socrates is so brilliant that they can not consider other things. the high contrast between upset and listening highlights the importance of philosophy from Socrates and enlarge the tragic of the dead influence.
In the foreground of the painting, the author paints open handcuffs and scattered hand scrolls, not only reminding people about the image of Socrates in prison, but also make people realize: Death is the way to get rid of the physical bondage and lead to absolute freedom. Even if he is trapped in shackles, being captained, or tortured, he will not give up on his truth and persistence about faith, which is showing the admirable of its personality. Apart from this painting retains the neoclassical styling rule, it also creates a connection between the surface of the drawing and the spiritual or emotional of different characters.
In conclusion, Death of Socrates just fused the characters from Neo-classical style and tragedy of the historical events, reminding people’s consideration about law and freedom. The death of Socrates affects the controls of the Athenian government and promote the development of society. The drawing records the events in a particular moment and the emotion of tragic improved the status of its historical status.
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