Jeanne d'Arc Statue
Public Art: Jeanne d'Arc Statue (AKA Joan of Arc)
Sculptor: Replica of statue by French sculptor
Date: Unveiled 4th of February
Description: Bronze statue of Jeanne d'Arc in her
battle armour on her trusty steed holding her banner (flag) high.
Cost : £1,800
Location: Outside the State Library of Victoria, 328
Swanston St, Melbourne, Australia.
Funded By: The Felton Bequest in 1906
Joan of Arc Background : Joan of Arc was a
peasant girl, who believed she could save her country, France, from the would-be English conquerors, during
the Hundred Years' War. Acting under divine guidance (or so she believed), Joan secured the confidence of Dauphin
(later King Charles VII) and led the French army in a momentous victory at Orleans in 1429. Whilst at Charles's
coronation at Reims, she was captured by the English and their French collaborators and tried as a witch.
Unfortunately Joan was found guilty and promptly burned at the stake. In 1455 a retrial was ordered and the earlier
verdict against the peasant girl was overturned. Joan not only became a national heroine but also a legend. On May
16th, 1920 she was canonized by Pope Benedict XV.
History: The replica statue of Jeanne d'Arc by
Emmanuel Fremiet was acquired by the Felton Bequest in 1906 on the recommondation of Bernard Hall, the Director of
the Gallery of Victoria. The statue was a second version of the original gilded bronze equestrian statue which is
located in Place des Pyramides, Paris and was made from a plaster mould. The original statue
was commissioned in 1874 by Napoleon III and was intended to help re-establish French confidence following
their humiliating military defeat to the Prussian army, in 1870. The statue was later replaced by the unhappy
sculptor, Emmanuel Fremiet, who believed the horse was disproportional to Joan (read more in
Trivia further down the page) and would always look the other way whenever he passed it. In
1899 Fremiet was informed that his statue was under threat by ongoing underground repairs to
the street. Seizing the opportunity he brought the sculpture back to his studio and began fixing his mistakes. He
made Joan 20cm taller and made the horse's neck thinner, changed the forehead and removed the rear
Where Are The Replica's ?: There have been several
replica's cast of the Jeanne d'Arc Statue. One can be found in Portland, Oregon,
(Laurelhurst) which was erected as a tribute to the fallen soldiers of World War I and was cast in 1924.
Another can be found in New Orleans, Louisiana on Decatur Street, French Quarter. It
was erected in 1972 and was a gift from the People of France to the City of New Orleans. Yet another in
Philadelphia was erected in 1890 at the Girard Avenue bridge. It was relocated in 1960,
to its current location near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Trivia: It could be argued that Emmanuel
Fremiet's great knowledge of the animal form led to his unfortunate habit of never being satisfied with his
work. A true perfectionist, he was extremely irritated with the original Jeanne d'Arc statue. Stating that he
thought the horse was not of the same scale as the rider. In 1889 the City of Nancy requested a reproduction of the
statue. This gave him the opportunity to reduce the size of the horse and make a few other changes, including
adding a muzzle to hide the horse's head and removing the harness around the rear. The new and improved
reproduction, led to the removal of the original statue in Paris. Oh yes the Jeanne d'Arc is not the original! It
is in fact a copy of the city of Nancy's statue (who knew?). It was replaced about 10 years after it was first
erected. However this didn't go unnoticed, creating a stir amongst the people of France and his peers, who believed
an artist should never modify a work already displayed in public.
The model for Joan was Marianna Mattiocco, the wife of Australian painter Peter Russell.
The Melbourne replica, unlike the original, is not gilded.
Following the canonization of Joan in 1920 the French statue, became a place of pilgrimage for
the royalist and traditionalist parties of France.
The New Orleans statue, known as the "Maid of Orleans" was originally sent to the city
in 1958 by Robert Whyte of the World House in New York. Unfortunately, when Joan arrived, the city
couldn't foot the $35,000 price tag to erect it and it was placed in storage for eight years. In 1960, Charles
DeGaulle (then President of France) visited New Orleans and simply fell in love with the city. On his return to
France, DeGaulle, contacted a few citizens in both France and New Orleans, requesting they invest in a
fund to erect the statue. In 1972, it was finally removed from storage and placed on a 17-foot pedestal on the
Place de France at the foot of Canal Street (later to be relocated to the French Quarter following the building of
a casino and lengthy legal actions). In 1985 the statue was gilded.