Léger’s inspiration for this painting, as alluded to in the title, was Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat
, 1793. Visually, Léger’s painting does not resemble Louis-David’s, and Léger did not share Louis-David’s political views, but he did admire this early use of art to present a political cause, and believed that art was for everyone, not just society’s privileged elite . Léger’s group scene shows people of different races, ages, and classes united by a shared leisure activity – cycling. Doves and olive branches complement the scene, emphasising Léger’s pacifist ideals.
Leisure - Homage to Louis David
Original: Oil paint on canvas 154 x 185 cm Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018
French painter and designer Fernand Léger, was born in Agentan, Normandy in 1881. His work encompasses cubist and semi-abstract styles, and in his later years he also worked in design for the stage. Léger also became an active advocate for peace, and in 1948 became a founder-member of the National Council of the World Peace Movement.