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French Revolution

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#1 AmanBadhan

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:42 PM

Hi, we've been learning about the 'French Revolution' and how it started. Were currently at the point were there was a meeting at the 'Tennis Court Oath' where the third estate generals meet up and start chanting oaths. We've been set the task to create a piece of work with the following picture.

Posted Image

The question is, 'What is the artist's opinion of the tennis court oath?'

So far I understand that they want the high estates to pay taxes and there is a clergyman and a noble in the picture. (This is because they know that the third estate will win I think) There is also soilders in the windows of the picture to see what the racket was about. They didn't stop the riotes because they weren't pay by the king so they decide to join in hoping they will give some money.

I understand all this but I'm unsure on how to anwser the question or what to include in the question.

Could you please help?



#2 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 08:59 AM

First you need to look at the question.
It does not ask you about the Tennis Court Oath.
It does not even ask you about the painting of the Tennis Court Oath.
It asks you what you can tell from the painting about what the artist (Jacques-Louis David) thought of the Tennis Court Oath!!

The painting is full of symbolism.
When David, the artist, painted the picture, he did not show what happened (although he had been there).
Instead, he created a scene full of symbols, which all have a meaning ... and show what he felt about the event.
David believed that a painting wasnot just (like a photograph) an exact portrayal of what happened - he believed that the task of a painting was also to get across the MEANING and MESSAGE of the event.

So what did he think was the meaning and message of the Tennis Court Oath?

Let's remind ourselves what happened in real life. The Estates General (Nobles, Church and 'Third Estate') had met. The Third Estate had clashed with the king, who had tried to close their meeting down. So the Third Estate went next door to the indoor tennis court and made a vow never to disband until the kingdom was reformed.
It was the turning point of the french revolution - the moment when the people said 'No!'
(It was also, actually, the moment when the Third Estate separated from the nobles and the clergy, who mostlydid as the king told them.)
(It is also worth remembering that, at the the time of the actual Tennis Court Oath, it was a very rich-and-middle-class revolution - there were no poor people at the Tennis Court Oath. By the time David was commissioned to draw the sketch, however, the poor people had risen and were VERY important.)

So, rather than tell you the answers, I am going to ask you some questions.
When you answer them,it will become clear what the artist thought about the event.

Posted Image

1. Look top left. The huge curtains are being blown inwards by a huge wind. What might this mean about the Tennis Court Oath? What does it show David thought about the event?

2.Keep looking top left, and also look top right. Many ordinary people are risking their life to get a glimpse of the momentous event as it happens. What does this show that David thought about the event?

3. In the main hall a huge crowd are cheering, saluting and waving their hats. What does this show that David thought about the event?

4. Look bottom right at the man sat on his chair - what is he doing? (He is the one delegate who refused to sign the oath, Martin Dauch from Castellane.) Look at his body language. What does this show that David thought about the event?

5. In the bottom centre, a lord, a clergy and a Third Estate man embrace. (They are actual people - Christophe-Antoine, dom Gerle; abbe’ Gregoire; and Rabaut Saint-Etienne). Given what we know about the tennis Court Oath we know that this did not happen - dom gerle was not even actually there - it is a completely made-up scene (and the Oath was the three estates falling out, not agreeing). So what does this show that David wanted to suggest about the event (even though it was not actually true)?

6. The artist has left a huge amount of space empty, to show the greatness of the hall in which the oath took place. Why has David put the event in so great a space - what does this show that David thought about the event?

7. One commentator has pointed out that all the men in the sketch (except Dauch) are strong, muscular, hero-types (not at all like the real men who were there, who were, as today, fat, podgy, weedy etc.). So why did David paint them all as heroes? What does this show that David thought about the event?

8. Just one poor man (a 'sans-culotte') has crept in (bottom left). Why do you think David has added him?

9. Finally, in the front,just left of centre, there is an artist. Why do you think David added this figure to the scene?

#3 AmanBadhan

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 10:30 PM

Thanks :) This has helped me a lot.

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