The present and the previous lot are versions, with a number of differences, of Norblin's finished copy in the Fogg Art Museum of Denon's print after David, Illustrated Bartsch Supplement CXXI, 273 and A. Mongan, David to Corot, French Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 1996, no. 284, illustrated. Seven drawings by Norblin de la Gourdaine of the Serment du Jeu de Paume are known in addition to the present two lots, four of which are in the Fogg Art Museum (Mongan, op. cit., nos. 284-7) and three in the Art Institute of Chicago, H. Joachim, The Helen Regenstein Collection of European Drawings, exhib. cat., Art Institute, Chicago, 1972, no. 56, illustrated.
It is not known why Norblin executed so many drawings on the basis of David's composition though a possible purpose could have been the preparation of his drawing of The Proclamation of the Polish Constitution on 3 May 1791. This event in Poland mirrored the 1789 Oath of the Tennis Court in France. Norblin's depiction of the proclamation is clearly akin to David's prototype, though the viewpoint is much higher (Bordes, op. cit., 1980, fig. 40), and is the same as that on the verso of the present lot. The drawings may therefore date from before 1797 when Norblin's drawing of the Polish subject appeared. The Fogg sheet shows only a few differences from Denon's print, mainly the reversal of the positions of Robespierre and Dubois-Crancé: the former stands on the chair with the latter stands next to him in David's drawing. The present drawing, in turn, shows a number of changes to the group in the earlier composition.
Norblin de la Gourdaine's sale contained two lots relating to the Serment du jeu de Paume: lot 77 'Le Serment du jeu de Paume, dessin très capital par Norblin', probably the drawing in the Fogg Art Museum, and lot 19 which contained 'Dix dessins, études pour le serment du Jeu de Paume'.