The signatories of the Jeu de Paume oath

The signatories of the Jeu de Paume oath

  • Le Oath du Jeu de Paume, 20 June 1789 (sketch).

    DAVID Jacques Louis (1748 - 1825)

  • Extract from the minutes of the session of June 20, 1789 of the National Assembly held in the Salle du Jeu de Paume.

To close

Title: Le Oath du Jeu de Paume, 20 June 1789 (sketch).

Author : DAVID Jacques Louis (1748 - 1825)

Creation date : 1791

Date shown: June 20, 1789

Dimensions: Height 66 - Width 101.2

Technique and other indications: commissioned by the Société des Amis de la Constitution for the sitting room of the National Assembly in 1790 in pen and brown ink, with repetitions in certain places in pen and black ink, brown wash and heightened with white on pencil lines

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Picture reference: 83-000530 / MV 8409; INV Drawings 736

Le Oath du Jeu de Paume, 20 June 1789 (sketch).

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

To close

Title: Extract from the minutes of the session of June 20, 1789 of the National Assembly held in the Salle du Jeu de Paume.

Author :

Creation date : 1789

Date shown: June 20, 1789

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Storage location: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Picture reference: AE / I / 5 / exhibit 3bis / folio 43 and 44

Extract from the minutes of the session of June 20, 1789 of the National Assembly held in the Salle du Jeu de Paume.

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Publication date: November 2003


The signatories of the Jeu de Paume Oath


Historical context

An act of political courage accomplished under fortunate conditions

June 17, 1789, faced with general inertia, the deputies of the Third Estate to the Estates General constitute themselves in the National Assembly. The deputies went to the Salle du Jeu de Paume on June 20 and decided to take an oath not to separate until they had given France a constitution.

The situation is not without danger for the deputies who defy the royal will a few steps from the sumptuous Palace of Versailles. As Mirabeau reported in October 1790: "some men, at the approach of a horrible storm and in a defenseless place which could become their tomb, saved a great nation with their courage"Their signatures cover nine pages of the register of the first minutes of the meeting.

The next meeting of the National Assembly, which was held two days later in the Church of Saint-Louis in Versailles, saw the beginning of the gathering of the three orders: a deputation from the majority of the Clergy and two nobles came to join the Third Estate. But the king begins to bring Swiss regiments around Versailles.

Image Analysis

Members united and united beyond their differences

The participants' gestures converge on Bailly, in a symmetrical composition. The raised hand of the President of the Assembly taking the oath expresses the collective will. Sieyès sees his wish fulfilled: the Third Estate which was nothing, becomes, on this day, the Nation. David attributes a prominent position to two of his friends: on the left, Prieur de la Marne and on the right, Dubois-Crancé; in October 1790, the Jacobins aroused a subscription for the sponsorship of the final painting.

In the foreground, on the right, Mirabeau and Barnave, the two greatest orators of the Constituent Assembly in 1790-1791, raise their arms side by side. Mirabeau, inflamed by eloquence, throws back his famous leonine head. Although a member of the Third Estate, he preceded his signature by his nobiliary title. Barnave, one of the editors of the Oath, speaks of an ancient adolescent. On the other hand, Mounier, the deputy who proposed to take this oath, no longer had a political role in the summer of 1790, his face was drowned in the crowd.

Robespierre, on the front line, his head thrown back, his collar open, lets appear under David's pencil an exaltation that the future Incorruptible will never express. His fine and applied signature includes the particle used by his ascending lawyers. He will give it up soon.

An incident on the right: Martin Dauch, representative of the Third Estate of Castelnaudary curled up in his chair, the only member to have expressed his disagreement with the oath, does not want to swear to carry out provisions not sanctioned by the king. Despite the uproar of indignation, the assembly let him add the word "opponent" to his signature in the minutes. A deputy who would be Camus, seeks to take the right arm of Martin Dauch to force him to take the oath, but Guilhermy, the other deputy for Castelnaudary, pushes aside the hand that wants to force him. With this testimony of opposition which is not violated, David reinforces the idea of ​​the unity of this historic moment.

In the center, three figures hug each other. But the Carthusian monk Dom Gerle, then substitute, was not present at the Jeu de Paume; he did not become deputy for Riom until December 1789. Nevertheless, David camps him with Abbé Grégoire, in the middle, and the Protestant pastor Rabaut of Saint-Etienne. He wants to represent through this friendly trio the new constitutional Church, hope of reconciliation in 1791, while through the window, the chapel of Versailles, symbolizing the Church of the Old Regime, is struck by lightning.

Beneath the great curtain symbolically raised by the storm stands out, from behind, the determined and united group of Breton deputies: Le Chapelier, Le Goazre de Kervélégan, Lanjuinais, Delaville-Leroulx and Glezen eagerly extend their arms. These bourgeois elected representatives of the Third Estate are violently opposed to the privileged. Having some experience with pressure groups, they meet in Versailles in the Breton Club to coordinate their action. Having become the Jacobin Club since the assembly was transferred to Paris in October 1789, it had an essential influence on the Revolution.

In the crowd, we see Dupont de Nemours, who is referred to by the name of his bailiwick to differentiate him from other Dupont deputies. Father Gérard, dressed in the costume of a Breton peasant who immediately drew attention to him at Versailles, during the first meetings of the States-General, expresses, with his hands joined, the sacredness of this privileged moment. Merlin de Douai leans on Pétion de Villeneuve's arm, from behind. Between them, Buzot.

On the left of Bailly, the rich Laborde de Méréville and Pison du Galland. Behind him, Dr. Guillotin has already made a name for himself by recommending the first sanitary measures for the health of his colleagues.

Above Mirabeau, David has, by his own admission, brought in "an aristocrat" with his finger to his mouth, concealed in the crowd to observe the event and hatch his plots. It even features Marat, notoriously absent because he was not a deputy in 1789, but already influential as a pamphleteer in 1790.

The deliberate creation of an antique allegory of old age supporting the oath taken, on the left, to Martin Dauch's refusal, on the right. David appeared as a sick old deputy Maupetit, from Mayenne, half-shod and supported by two vigorous sans-culottes, one of whom wears a Phrygian cap adorned with a cockade. He no longer has the strength to walk nor, it seems, to stretch out his arm. His old hand only makes the gesture of the oath. But Maupetit, whose signature is small and firm, was in reality only 47 years old in 1789 and will live another 42 years!

Barère, seated, in a pose borrowed from the figure of Ennius listening to Homer in Raphael's Parnassus writes Daily point. His support for the David commissioned work earned him a front row seat. His signature bears the mention of the Vieuzac seigneury, a parcel of which in his possession gives him the right to bear the name.


The dawn of a new era

Rather than a precise representation of the participants in the session of June 20, 1789, David presents the figures of the Constituent Assembly whose role is confirmed by the scale of the changes underway and the men he feels particularly committed.

Finally, the richness of the design on which David said he had worked for a year subtly conveys the consequence of the surge of freedom on the minds in the period following 1789. Nothing stands between individuals and the Nation. On the contrary, by recognizing each other on an equal basis, Members of Parliament can enrich each other by their differences. In the crucible of this exceptional day, the artist endeavors to suggest potentialities. New human relationships will make it possible to found a society that David feels is drawn to movement and tending towards the future.

  • National Assembly
  • Clergy
  • deputies
  • States General
  • revolutionary figures
  • revolutionary days
  • Marat (Jean-Paul)
  • Mirabeau (Honoré Gabriel Riqueti de)
  • Robespierre (Maximilian of)
  • oath
  • Oath of the Tennis Court
  • Third state
  • Versailles
  • Abbot Sieyès
  • Barnave (Antoine)
  • Abbot Gregory
  • Camus (Armand Gaston)
  • The Hatter (Isaac)
  • Pétion de Villeneuve (Jérôme)
  • speaker


Philippe BORDES,.The Oath of the Jeu de Paume by J.L. David. Palace of Versailles Museum. Paris, RMN, 1983. (Notes and documents, 8) François FURET,The Revolution, 1770-1880.Paris, Hachette, 1988. Jacques GODECHOT,The French Revolution, commented chronology 1787-1799.Paris, Perrin, 1988 Edna Hinde LEMAY,Dictionary of Constituents, 1789-1791.2 vol. Paris, Universitas, 1991.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS, "The signatories of the Jeu de Paume oath"

Video: Under 19 Jeu De Paume Open de France Junior 2018