In David's Tennis Court Oath, what do the figures in the forefront represent?
The figures in the forefront of the painting represent members of the Third Estate. The group of people collected on the Tennis Court are assembled there out of fear of a royal seizure of power, thereby thwarting any attempts at a Constitution and some type of check on monarchical abuses. The collection in the forefront represent the leaders of the Third Estate who lead the group in taking an oath not to disband until a Constitution has been fully formed and adopted. These leaders speak for the entire group, conveyed through the sense of cohesion and solidarity that David brings out in the portrait. The figure in the center of the forefront collection is raising his hand, speaking presumably an oath of allegiance that all others are speaking to and repeating. These individuals would go on to form the National Assembly, the essence of the French Revolution. In highlighting the group of individuals in the forefront, David is able to focus the attention of the portrait on the leadership of the spirit of change that was the French Revolution. He is also able to show that while leadership was important to the French Revolution, it is the reverberating effects throughout the portrait from the center of the figures in front all the way to the windows at the top in which revolution is felt, embraced, and something in which there is absolute certainty about its being.