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In Jacques-Louis David's portrait "The Tennis Court Oath," what do the people standing...

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misspynk | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted August 9, 2012 at 4:08 PM via web

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In Jacques-Louis David's portrait "The Tennis Court Oath," what do the people standing in the window represent?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 12, 2012 at 2:42 AM (Answer #1)

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For David, the Oath taken at the Tennis Court was a powerful event in the narrative of the French Revolution.  It was one in which individuals were able to make a commitment to one another to form a constitution, and to see that the ideals of change would not be abandoned.  In representing the magnitude of this event, David has constructed people in the windows able to partake in the glory of this moment, the "fierce urgency of now" as Dr. King would suggest about the Civil Rights Movement.  This sense of the immediate is present in the people standing at the window.  Some of them are staring down at what it taking place on the court, while others are looking upwards, presumably reciting the oath that is being spoken on the court.  They stand and partake in the same event that has the wind blowing inward, almost to convey that the event is in concert with natural law. Their presence at the window also helps to bring to light how individuals outside of the people on the Court came to see the event itself.  The combination of the people standing at the windows either reciting the Oath or wishing to witness it to be a part of history helps to convey's David's belief that the Tennis Court Oath was an instant of significant magnitude.

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