Thesis Idea

Painter of the French Revolution: Jacques-Louis David

Jacques-Louis David was a French painter who was called both a revolutionary artist and an artist of the French revolution. Jacques-Louis David was an ardent supporter of the French Revolution and he helped in the destruction of the old regime. Jacques-Louis David painting of “The Oath of the Tennis Court” was his attempt to be recognized as a painter of the revolution, although this painting was not made because of his political convictions but because he was commissioned to do the painting. This event was supposed to be a representation of French unity against the old regime.

The symbolic painting helped him to become a member of the Society of “Friends of the Constitution”. This group ultimately formed “The Jacobins” to ensure the protection of this emblematical event. The event was a convening of the Estates General to carry out reforms in the monarchy. Members of the self-appointed “National Assembly” were locked out of the meeting hall and had to hold their meeting in the royal indoor tennis court. They vowed to be together until a national constitution had been. He voted in the National Convention for the execution of Louis XVI which was contrary to his personal interests because he had greater opportunities under the king than he had under the republican government.

It was perhaps because of his passion for everything classic that made him like everything about that period which included a republican government.  His Neoclassical intellectual style indicated a change in painting that was very different to the then popular style of “Rocco” which was considered to be a thoughtless lightheartedness towards asceticism.  “Rocco” was an 18th-century style which influenced most aspects of art and which also included the different aspects of literature, music, and theater. The Rocco style was metaphorical and used light colors, irregular designs, curves, and gold.

Jacques-Louis David’s incorporated seriousness in his work which was in line with the political environment of revolution of that period5. Jacques-Louis David actively supported the French Revolution and it was at that time that he created his “Empire Style” which was painted exceptionally in warm Venetian colors. His style and creativity made him very popular which gained him a large number of students. He exerted the strongest influence on art in the 19th century David wanted this painting to portray that the acts of the republican government were just like those of the Romans.

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