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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: At the Origin of the Galleria Estense


Maude Adams (1872–1953) as Joan of Arc

Alphonse Mucha (Czech, Ivančice 1860–1939 Prague)

Oil on canvas
82 1/4 x 30 in. (208.9 x 76.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of A. J. Kobler, 1920
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Painted in Chicago in 1909, this picture depicts the American actress Maude Adams in the role of Joan of Arc in Friedrich Schiller's Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans), in which she performed at Harvard University Stadium on June 22, 1909. The portrait was made specifically for the one-night gala performance and was displayed as a poster for the event. Mucha also designed the costumes and sets and supervised the direction. Afterwards, at the actress's request, the painting served as the lobby poster for the Empire Theater in New York, where Adams regularly performed. Mucha designed the ornate, gilded frame.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower left) Mucha / 1909; (bottom) MAUDE ADAMS as JOAN of ARC

  • Provenance

    A. J. Kobler, New York (until 1920)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Behind American Footlights," February 4–September 5, 1949, no catalogue.

    Baltimore. Mount Royal Station Gallery. "Poster Artist Mucha," October 9–31, 1973, no. 49.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "La Belle Époque," December 6, 1982–September 4, 1983, unnum. checklist.

    San Diego Museum of Art. "Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau," February 28–April 26, 1998, no. 96 (as "Portrait of Maude Adams as Joan of Arc").

    Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen. "Jeanne d'Arc: Les tableaux de l'Histoire, 1820–1920," May 30–September 1, 2003, no. 82.

    Washington. Corcoran Gallery of Art. "Joan of Arc: Her Image in France and America," November 18, 2006–January 21, 2007, unnumbered cat. (fig. 80).

  • References

    Jirí Mucha. Alphonse Mucha: The Master of Art Nouveau. Prague, 1966, p. 239, pl. 258, reproduces a pencil study for this picture showing the head of Maude Adams (Mucha Trust, Prague); states that our painting, executed in Chicago, was to be reproduced in an unrealized folio called "American Actresses".

    Jirí Mucha in Alphonse Mucha: Posters and Photographs. London, 1971, p. 60, fig. 51, calls it "Joan of Arc. Poster for Maude Adams" and states that it was made for a one-night performance of [Friedrich] Schiller's play "Maid of Orleans" at the Harvard University Stadium; notes that Mucha also designed the costumes and sets, and supervised the direction.

    Robert E. Gotsch. Poster Artist Mucha. Exh. cat., Mount Royal Station Gallery. Baltimore, 1973, p. 18, no. 49, ill. (frontispiece, color), notes that the ghostly image of an armed warrior behind Joan represents her future destiny; explains the symbolism of the fleur-de-lis as emblems of French royalty and the Trinity, the crowns of thorns as images of Christian suffering, and the lilies as representations of Joan's purity.

    Jana Brabcová in Alfons Mucha: 1860–1939. Exh. cat., Darmstadt Mathildenhöhe. Munich, 1980, pp. 52, 321, under no. 342, p. 376.

    Jack Rennert and Alain Weill. Alphonse Mucha: The Complete Posters and Panels. Boston, 1984, pp. 330–32, no. 96, ill. (color), state that this picture was displayed at Harvard as the only poster for Adams's June 21, 1909 performance [the performance took place on June 22; see Ref. Coyle 2006] and that afterward, the actress requested that it be displayed in the lobby of the Empire Theater in New York, for which Mucha designed the frame; note that "after many years as a lobby poster" it passed into a private collection, from which it was donated to the MMA; illustrate a hand-painted lithograph after the painting (Mucha Trust, Prague) which may have been executed as an intermediary step toward the creation of an unrealized printed poster of the image.

    Jirí Mucha. Alphonse Maria Mucha: His Life and Art. London, 1989, p. 234.

    Arthur Ellridge. Mucha: Le Triomphe du modern style. Paris, 1992, p. 174.

    Anna Dvorák in Alphonse Mucha: The Spirit of Art Nouveau. Exh. cat., San Diego Museum of Art. Alexandria, Va., 1998, pp. 38, 266–69, no. 96, ill. (color), dates it 1908; asserts that no printed posters were made from this picture; states that although Adams wanted it displayed at the Empire Theater "in the spring of 1910... before Mucha's departure for Prague, he wrote that he left 'Maude Adams' with his friend Arthur Hercz, who would try to find a buyer for it," adding that Mucha was either referring to the pencil study (Mucha Trust) or to our picture.

    Marie-Claude Coudert in Jeanne d'Arc: Les tableaux de l'Histoire, 1820–1920. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen. Paris, 2003, pp. 151, 170, no. 82, ill. p. 148 (color), states that Adams commissioned this picture.

    Laura Coyle in Nora M. Heimann and Laura Coyle. Joan of Arc: Her Image in France and America. Exh. cat., Corcoran Gallery of Art. Washington, 2006, pp. 63–64, fig. 80 (color), notes that Adams's performance as Joan of Arc took place on June 22, 1909 [see "Miss Adams Thrills Throng in Stadium," New York Times (June 23, 1909), p. 1]; states that this picture hung in the lobby of the Empire Theater for over a decade until it was donated to the MMA.

    Marta Sylvestrová in Marta Sylvestrová and Petr Stembera. In Praise of Women: Alphonse Mucha—Czech Master of the Art Nouveau. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. Budapest, 2009, p. 51.

  • Notes

    There exists a pencil drawing used as a study for this picture and a lithograph after the final composition, printed in black and gold outline and painted with watercolor and gouache, which was probably created in preparation for an unrealized printed poster (both 1908; Mucha Trust, Prague).

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History