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Six Centuries of Joan of Arc Reflected in Art

 

Joan of Arc has inspired artistic and cultural works for nearly six centuries.
She is reflected on paintings, drawings, statues, in stories and music. The question that remains is how a little Catholic girl has captured an attention of so many artists?

Little Catholic Girl

Jeanne d’Arc was a peasant girl living on the countryside, the only education that was available for her was the Catholic Church teachings. It was believed Girl heard angels’ voices talking to her on behalf of the God.

Jules Bastien-Lepage, Joan of Arc, (1880)

Jules Bastien-Lepage, Joan of Arc, (1880)

Jeanne reflected by Jules Bastien-Lepage in her garden talking with Saint Michael who is depicted in armor. The pour surroundings reminds of her background making her more real and alive, reminding she was just a girl.

 

Henri-Michel-Antoine Chapu: Joan of Arc in Domremy, listening to heavenly voices (1886-87)

Henri-Michel-Antoine Chapu: Joan of Arc in Domremy, listening to heavenly voices (1886-87)

All artists most often reflected the girl listening to the voices, this marble statue seem to be focused and in the same time relaxed listening angels.

A songwriter, Andy McCluskey described her as more of fantasy comparing the girl to Robin Hood. More and more myths are covering her name, therefore the more you study the less you know.

Henri-Michel-Antoine Chapu: Joan of Arc in Domremy, listening to heavenly voices (1886-87)

Henri-Michel-Antoine Chapu: Joan of Arc in Domremy, listening to heavenly voices (1886-87)

During the Hundreds Year War Jeanne dressed like a boy, covered in armor traveled to the Crown Prince to request an army on behalf of God’s will, however she was considered to be mad. This scene is also reflected in the playwright called “Saint Joan” by George Bernard Shaw:

OAN [bobbing a curtsey] Good morning, captain squire. Captain: you are to give me a horse and armor and some soldiers, and send me to the Dauphin. Those are your orders from my Lord.
ROBERT [outraged] Orders from your lord! And who the devil may your lord be? Go back to him, and tell him that I am neither duke nor peer at his orders: I am squire of Baudricourt; and I take no orders except from the king.
JOAN [reassuringly] Yes, squire: that is all right. My Lord is the King of Heaven.
ROBERT. Why, the girl’s mad.

 

The Maid as Soldier

Nevertheless, the girl never gave up until her wish was granted.

Joan of Arc, 15th Century miniature

Joan of Arc, 15th Century miniature

Jeanne as a soldier with a flag with Saints reflected on it blessing her way.

John Everett Millais-Joan of Arc (1885)

John Everett Millais-Joan of Arc (1885)

Millais still decided to keep feminine features painting a skirt. It is clearly visible that Jeanne is determined to lead an army to fulfill her destiny.

 

Jeanne was successful and her army won the battle.

Franck Craig 1874 – 1918, “La Pucelle ! “Jeanne d’Arc à la tête de son armée 1914

Franck Craig 1874 – 1918, “La Pucelle ! “Jeanne d’Arc à la tête de son armée 1914

The painting reflects the fierce battle capturing feeling of determination and energy.

 

Sacrifice – gave her body to the grave

After bringing a victory to the Prince, she was accused in witchcraft and imprisoned, and executed due to the reason she had too much followers and therefore the power.

Hermann Anton Stilke – Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake. (1843)

Hermann Anton Stilke – Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake. (1843)

Painting of Jeanne’s execution does not reflect all the horror the girl has went through but rather her looking up into the sky listening to the God with a hope and witnesses are reflected with regretful face expressions.

Leonard Cohen has written a song in 1971 – a dialogue between Jeanne and the flames.

“And who are you?” she sternly spoke
to the one beneath the smoke.
“Why, I’m fire,” he replied,
“And I love your solitude, I love your pride.”

“Then fire, make your body cold,
I’m going to give you mine to hold,”
saying this she climbed inside
to be his one, to be his only bride.

 

Saint Joan

In 1456 the papal court granted Jeanne status of a martyr. However she became a Saint only in 1920.

Jeanne d’Arc, statue en pied, en armure, cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims

Jeanne d’Arc, statue en pied, en armure, cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims