Joan of Arc, 1879. Jules Bastien-Lepage. Oil on canvas. Gift of Erwin Davis, 1889.
Joan of Arc, the medieval teenaged martyr from the French province of Lorraine, gained new status as a patriotic symbol when France ceded part of the territory to the German Empire after the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). Bastien-Lepage, a native of Lorraine, depicts the moment when Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine appear to the peasant girl in her parents’ garden, rousing her to fight the English invaders in the Hundred Years War. Critics at the Salon of 1880 praised Bastien-Lepage’s use of pose and facial expression to convey Joan’s spiritual awakening, but found the inclusion of the saints at odds with his naturalistic style.