Art, Art History, painting

La Pucelle d’Orléans

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc in French) also known as ‘La Pucelle d’Orléans’ (The maid of Orléans) is considered a French heroine for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years’ War. She has inspired artistic and cultural works for nearly six centuries.

Miniature portrait (c.1450-1500)


Joan was born in a peasant family at Domrémy in north-east France.

She said that she received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, these visions instructed her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years’ War.

Joan of Arc listenning the voices by Eugène Thirion

King Charles VII, who was uncrowned, sent Joan to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional quick victories led to Charles VII’s coronation at Reims. This long-waited event boosted French moral and cleared the way for the final French victory.

On May 23 1430, she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundian faction (allies with the English). Later she was handed over to the English and put on trial on a variety of charges by Bishop of Beauvois Pierre Cauchon, who was pro-English. After Cuchon declared her guilty she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at the age of nineteen.

Joan of Arc’s death at stake by Hermann Stilke

In 1456, Pope Callixtus III authorized an inquisitorial court to examine the trial. This court debunked the charges against her, pronounced her innocent and declared her a martyr.

In the 16th century she became a symbol of the Catholic League of France and in the year of 1803, she was declared symbol of France by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonised in 1920.

Joan of Arc is one of the nine secondary patron saints of France, along with Saint Denis, Saint Martin of Tours, Saint Louis, Saint Michel, Saint Rémi, Saint Petronilla, Saint Radegund and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

Jeanne d’Arc in the arts

There are numerous portrayals depicting different stages of her life: she as a peasant girl with the visions or listening the voices that instructed to support king Charles VII; in the battle, with or without a horse; at the coronation of king Charles VII (the most famous of this moment is the one painted by Ingres) and the moment of her death.

Joan of Arc at the Coronation of Charles VII by Ingres

Other depictions of Jeanne d’Arc:

Joan of Arc at prayer by Rubens – Joan of Arc at prayer by Everett Millais

Millais wasn’t the only pre-raphaelite to depict Joan. Dante Gabriel Rossetti depicted her at least three times, he preferred depict her as a warrior, with a sword even though not in the battlefield. Waterhouse, however chose to depict her as a child.

Joan of Arc by Rossetti (1882) – St. Joan by Waterhouse

Joan of Arc by Women Artists

Joan of Arc became a semi-legendary figure for the four centuries after her death. The main sources about her where chronicles. From Christine de Pisan to the present, women have looked to Joan of Arc as a positive example of brave and active woman.

Although, she has been considered as a great example of bravery for women, I have found only two depictions of her made by women artists.

The firs one is a sculpture by American artist Anna Hyatt Huntington that is in the Riverside Park of New York. It’s an equestrian statue and it was the first public statue in the city dedicated to a woman (as opposed to idealised concept such as Liberty and Victory).

Riverside-Joan by anna h
Photo credit: Columbia University

The other one is a painting by English artist Annie Swynnerton, which style was much influenced by George Frederic Watts and Edward Burne Jones. In her work she incorporated aspects of Neoclassicism, Pre-Raphaelitism and Symbolism.

Joan of Arc by Annie Swynnerton


If you know other depiction of Joan of Arc made by a woman artist, I would love to know.

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