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Serment du Jeu de Paume, a Versailles. le 20 Juin 1789

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (published)

  • Date:

    1791-1794 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Berthault, Pierre-Gabriel, born 1748 - died 1819 (engraver)
    Prieur, Jean Louis (the younger), born 1759 - died 1795 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr E. Rawdon-Smith

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case O, shelf 1, box A

This print is an illustration to a group of prints depicting events during the French Revolution. The prints with accompanying text were originally sold separately between 1791-4, then were issued as a set of three bound volumes 'Collection complète des tableaux historiques de la révolution française' in 1804. The authors of the work were all actively involved in the early stages of the revolution, as was the artist of this print, Jean-Louis Prieur.

This scene shows the taking of the ’Tennis Court Oath’ in the early days of the revolution. The Three Estates (Clergy, Nobility and Public) were to meet to discuss solutions to the many problems threatening France, such as bankruptcy, famine and gross inequality in wealth. Representatives of the Third Estate found the assembly rooms locked by orders of the King. Seeing this as a despotic act, they gathered in a nearby tennis court and made an oath not to separate until a constitution had been declared. Among those present were Mirabeau, Sieyes, Robespierre and Dr Guillotin. Making such an declaration in the King’s absence was a defiance of royal authority and became the first step towards eventual Republicanism.

Physical description

Print showing the making of the Tennis Court Oath during the French Revolution, 20 June 1789. The interior of the tennis court can be seen, with the net discarded by the wall. A large crowd gesture towards a table on which a man stands. Manuscripts and writing materials are on the table. Onlookers, both men and women, can be seen in the upper windows.

Place of Origin

Paris (published)


1791-1794 (published)


Berthault, Pierre-Gabriel, born 1748 - died 1819 (engraver)
Prieur, Jean Louis (the younger), born 1759 - died 1795 (artist)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

'Prieur inv. & del. Berthault Sculp.'
Lettered with title and



Height: 180 mm image, Width: 236 mm image, Height: 245 mm platemark, Width: 290 mm platemark, Height: 287 mm sheet, Width: 374 mm sheet NB: width is max dims - paper is cuts unevenly

Object history note

The Collection Complète des Tableaux Historiques de la Revolution Française was first published in 40 parts in Paris between 1791 and 1794. They were published in 3 volumes in 1804.

Descriptive line

'Serment du Jeu de Paume, a Versailles. le 20 Juin 1789'. Print by Pierre Gabriel Berthault after Prieur, from the series 'Collection Complète des Tableaux Historiques de la Révolution Française', published Paris, 1791-1794.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1952. London: HMSO, 1963.
Text by Clause Fauchet, Sebastien R.N. Chamfort, Pierre L. Ginguené and F.X. Pagès. Cf. Tourneux <u>Collection complète des tableaux historiques de la révolution française :composé de cent treize numéros en trois volumes.</u> Paris: Auber, c1804.

Warren Roberts, Jacques-Louis David and Jean-Louis Prieur. Revolutionary Artists. The Public, the Populace, and Images of the French Revolution New York: University of New York Press, 2000. ISBN: 0-7914-4287-x


Printing ink



Subjects depicted

Protest; Crowd scenes; Power (political); Rebellion; Solidarity; Mass media; Disobedience; Revolution


Prints; Patriotism; Periodicals; Politics; Interiors; Illustration


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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