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Medals of Joan of Arc
The medieval maiden from Orlans who went on to lead the French army to victory against the occupying English has long been a favorite subject for medallic artists and collectors. Depictions of Joan range from her identity as a simple peasant, to the leader of a great army, to her martyrdom of being burned at the stake as a heretic, to her modern recognition as a saint. Not surprisingly, Joan was a favorite subject for woman medalists. Here is a sample of the rarest and most beautiful such medals in our stock; email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about other specific Joan of Arc medals – or any others – that we might have. Or better yet, visit our shop at Madison Avenue and 32nd Street.
In the sixteenth century, a statue was erected depicting Joan in Orlans, site of her major victory, but it was torn down by Protestants later that century; a replacement was demolished during the French Revolution. In 1803, under the impetus of Napoleon, a new statue was designed by the Edm Gois and executed by Augustin Dupr. In 1820, under the Restoration, a statue of Joan was erected in her home town of Donrmy by order of Louis XVIII, sculpted by Jean-Franois Legendre-Hral. The reverse of the 1803 medal issued by Napoleon (Bramsen 272) depicting the Orlans monument served as the basis for the reverse (signed Depuymarin) of a medal of Louis XVIII with an obverse by Gayard, and as the obverse for another, commemorating the Donrmy statue.
Louis XVIII/Orlans statue, bronze, 57 mm., no edge punch, EF bruised at 12 oÕclock on reverse, $120; another choice EF, $165.
Orlans statue, Donrmy statue, bronze, 57 mm., no edge punch, choice EF, $165.
Construction of the gothic cathedral of Sainte Croix in Orlans was begun in 1288, but wasnÕt completed until 1829, just in time for Charles X to sponsor a major celebration of the 400th anniversary of the deliverance of the city under Joan of Arc and the fifth (and last) year of his reign; the medal for this occasion is by Armand Auguste Caqu. Bronze, 64 mm., no edge punch, scattered light mark left, small reverse rim bruise, $175.
Marie dÕOrlans, the second daughter of Louis-Philippe, was a student of David dÕAngers and is recognized as the first woman sculptor of France during the Romantic period. At age 24 she sculpted a marble statue of Joan of Arc in prayer for the renovations her father was carrying out at Versailles. That same year she was married to Prince Alexander of Wrttemberg, but died two years later. The medal by Montagny featuring the Princess on the obverse and her sculpture on the reverse is known in two sizes. Bronze, 52 mm., edge marked anchor CUIVRE, lovely EF, $195; bronze, 24 mm., no edge punch, EF, $75; bronze, 24 mm., edge marked anchor CUIVRE, VF, $49.
For the Musical Congress held at Orlans in 1837, the local artist Charles Pense (1799-1871) designed a depiction of Joan in a fanciful ritual outfit with a feathered hat the served as the basis of a prize medal sculpted by Caqu. Congrs Musical, unengraved, bronze, 46 mm., no edge punch, $99.
The head punch sculpted by Caqu was later reused for the obverse of a prize medal of the Socit dÕHorticulture dÕOrlans et du Loiret, with the legend engraved with new letter punches and the artistÕs name misspelled as Dense; this obverse also bears the letters D.R. replacing CaquÕs name. Socit dÕHorticulture, unengraved, bronze, 46 mm., edge marked (uncertain) BRONZE, $99.
After the disastrous defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III sought to revive the national spirit by commissioning Emmanuel Frmiet (notorious for his sculpture of a gorilla molesting a nude woman) to sculpt a monumental gilt statue of a triumphant Joan of Arc for the Place des Pyramides next to the Louvre (a copy was soon erected in Philadelphia). The medal reprising this image is signed by Frmiet and undated. Silver, 50 mm., edge marked cornucopia ARGENT, VF+, obverse rim bruise at 2:30, $215; 37 mm., edge marked cornucopia ARGENT, EF, $139.
Felix Rasumny, the great French medalist born in Sebastopol in the Crimea, was the author of three distinct medallic images of Joan of Arc, produced as medals of various sizes and metals. We offer a large plaque of his early version produced for the firm of Adolph Deseaux in Paris, depicting Joan in full armor brandishing a sword and standard of fleurs de lys. Silvered galvano, 93 mm., $595.
The plaquette of Joan of Arc was one of the last creations of the great Beaux-Arts medalist Jean-Baptiste Daniel-Dupuis. Its depiction of the peasant girl among sheep with a winged angel on her hill to her right is strongly reminiscent of the scene in the 1900 film Jeanne dÕArc by the early cinema pioneer Georges Mlis, shown at the Exposition Universelle of Paris that year. Daniel-Dupuis finished the model for the obverse shorty before his death; the reverse was designed by his friend Alphonse Lechevrel. Bronze, 41 x 67 mm., edge market cornucopia BRONZE, EF, $115; another about EF, $99.
1909 Though convicted of heresy and burnt at the stake, in 1909 Joan was beatified by the Catholic Church and in 1920 canonized as a saint. Many medals were issued in conjunction with the celebration of these actions.
Ren Baudichon depicted Joan in his 1909 medal as a young peasant receiving the call to action from Saints Michael, Margaret and Catherine, echoing the painting by Jules Bastien-Lepage (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art) of three decades earlier as well as depictions of the Annunciation to Mary. Bronze, 50 mm., edge marked triangle AB (Arthus-Bertrand) CUIVRE, $125.
The medal by Franoise Montagny for the quincentenary of JoanÕs birth is completely without legends; it depicts her on the obverse leading the siege of the British-held Fort des Tourelles on the entrance to Orlans; its reverse is unusual in representing JoanÕs death, depicted as a flaming pyre with a dove descending. Silver, 41 mm., edge marked cornucopia ARGENT, $149.
Felix RasumnyÕs final image of Joan was as a shepherdess, hearing celestial voices. We offer a large bronze rectangular plaque of this image, which appeared in many sizes as a round medal. Cast bronze, 210 mm. x 212 mm., $795.
Auguste Corbierre was an abbot and author of scholarly works on the seventeenth-century historian Mabillon, on medieval seals, and on crosses and medals in honor of Saint Benedict. He also issued several medals, most notably for the canonization of Saint Joan. His impressive, high relief medal depicting Joan in armor on the obverse is paired with reverses with a variety of shields, including those of the French towns of Orlans, Troyes, and Dijon. The silver-plated bronze one we offer is the only weÕve come across with the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, which Corbierre had used in 1919 for the reverse of a World War I memorial medal. Silvered bronze, 50 mm., edge marked BRONZE, VF, $110.
Pierre-Alexandre Morlon, whose work spanned the transition from Beaux-Arts to Art Deco, depicted Joan head-on, armored with sword and lance; the reverse of field of lilies (fleurs de lys) holds a banner for engraving. Copper, 63 mm., edge marked cornucopia CUIVRE, $99.
Joan met with the Dauphin Charles VII in February of 1929, and convinced him to allow her to lead his army provided she was interviewed by a group of clerics to determine that her mandate came from God rather than from Satan. A medal issued by the Jules Holy firm of Paris commemorated the five hundredth anniversary of the examination of Joan at Poitiers, with a scene of her swearing in front of priests in an outfit much more like that of a modern woman than the medieval male military garb she is reported to have worn. The reverse bears the arms of Poitiers. Bronze, 50 mm., edge marked square BRONZE, $125.
In 1929, The Socit Archologique dÕOrlans commissioned a medal for the 500th anniversary of the deliverance of the city from the British. The medal does not mention Joan by name and depicts her only as a minute figure on horseback; the legend ŌMESSIRE M'A ENVOYE POUR SECOURIR LA BONNE VILLE D'ORLANSĶ [My lord has summoned me to rescue the good city of Orlans] is taken from an inscription of the statue of Joan erected in 1855 in the Place du Martroi of the city. Bronze, 46 mm., edge marked triangle [Arthus-Bertrand] BRONZE, ex collection of C. Christensen, $120.
For the five-hundredth anniversary of JoanÕs death, Georges-Henri PrudÕhomme sculpted an obverse profile of a woman simply clothed, with nothing other than the legend identifying her. The medal appeared with two reverses: one with the seals of the towns Orlans, Reims, and Rouen (listed on the obverse), and one depicting the training cruiser of the French navy named in her honor put into service in 1931. A third reverse was made in 1964 for the helicopter-carrier in her name commissioned that year. Cruiser: bronze, 59 mm., edge marked cornucopia BRONZE, EF, $149; another about EF, $135; bronze, 50 mm., edge marked cornucopia BRONZE, VF+, $90; helicopter carrier: bronze, 59 mm., engraved to Charles E. Bohlen [United States Ambassador to France, 1962-68], edge marked cornucopia BRONZE, $120.
Twenty years after she was condemned for heresy and was burnt at the stake, Joan was acquitted of the charges as the result of a papal inquest that ran from 1452 to 1456. The medal for the quincentenary of her rehabilitation by Josette Hbert-Coffin depicts Joan in a boyish hairdo and elegant armor on the obverse and a cross rising out of a bonfire on the reverse. Bronze, 72 mm., edge marked cornucopia BRONZE, $95.
In 1427, at the age of 15, Joan left her home in Domrmy, Lorraine, to begin her quest to liberate France from the British. Five hundred and fifty years later, Pierre Lovy sculpted a medal depicting Joan on the obverse with her sword and banner as depicted in a miniature in a poem by her contemporary, the royal poet Charles dÕOrlans, and on the reverse the simple peasantÕs cottage she was raised in. Bronze, 69 mm., edge marked 1977 BRONZE cornucopia, $59.
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