Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848–1884)
Oil on canvas
100 x 110 in. (254 x 279.4 cm)
Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower right): J.BASTIEN-LEPAGE / DAMVILLERS Meuse / 1879
Gift of Erwin Davis, 1889 (89.21.1)
With the loss of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine to Germany in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), the national heroine from Lorraine, Joan of Arc, acquired new symbolic importance among the French. A succession of sculpted and painted images of the medieval teenaged martyr appeared in the Salons of the 1870s and 1880s. At the 1880 Salon, Bastien-Lepage, himself a native of Lorraine, exhibited this painting, which represents the moment of Joan of Arc's divine revelation in her parents' garden. His depiction of the saints whose voices she heard elicited a mixed reaction from Salon critics, many of whom found the presence of the saints at odds with the naturalism of the artist's style.