Published: June 26, 2007
The Knights of Columbus Museum premieres a new exhibit, “Joan of Arc: Medieval Maiden to Modern Saint,” on view through September 3. The show’s guest curators, Nora Heimann and Laura Coyle, arranged a similar exhibit, “Joan of Arc,” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., late last year.
The exhibition features more than 200 works, including paintings, sculpture, prints, illustrated books, posters and popular art on loan from more than 20 public and private collections in the United States and France. Its focus is not only on the historical figure, but also on the manner in which Joan of Arc has been characterized or portrayed through time: a bold warrior, a pious maiden, a fashionable courtier, a loyal subject and a condemned prisoner.
Exhibition highlights include a Ringling Brothers poster “Tremendous 1200 character spectacle Joan of Arc,” 1912; lithograph (Library of Congress); a recreation of early Fifteenth Century armor by Robert MacPherson (Charles Bennett); an Emmanuel Frémiet bronze miniature of Joan of Arc riding into battle (Bryn Mawr College Library); and a Gillot Saint-Evre oil on board, “Joan of Arc Kneeling before the Dauphin,” not dated (collection Stair Sainty Matthiesen, Inc).
Connecticut resident and famed writer Mark Twain admired the young heroine and conducted 12 years of research before writing Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.
As an illiterate peasant, Joan had a vision late in France’s Hundred Years’ War (1337‱453) where God told her to reclaim her homeland from England’s domination. With effort, she successfully persuaded Charles VII, the uncrowned heir to the French throne, to let her lead his troops in battle. Within a year after she led Charles to Reims for his coronation, the king’s enemies captured her, put her on trial and burned her at the stake.
Heimann is associate professor and chair of the department of art at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She is a leading historian in the iconography of Joan of Arc, and the relationship between art and politics.
Coyle, formerly curator of European Art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., is now proprietor of an art services company, Curator-At-Large.
The Knights of Columbus Museum is at 1 State Street. For information, www.kofc.org or 203-865-0400.
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