The Death of Socrates

Jacques Louis David French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 634

The Death of Socrates is one of the purest examples of the Neoclassical style, in which the look of the classical past is fused with stories of moral rectitude.

In this highly choreographed scene, David presents the imprisoned Greek philosopher pausing before accepting the goblet of poison from a cupbearer who cannot bear to watch. With a calm that contrasts with the clear distress of his disciples, Socrates expounds upon his belief in the immortality of the soul.

Seated at the foot of the bed, with head bent and eyes closed, is Plato, who was not present in Socrates’ prison cell, but who described the scene in Phaedo, one of his Dialogues.

#5184. The Death of Socrates

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The Death of Socrates, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Oil on canvas

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