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Barbedienne gilt bronze figure of Joan of Ark, after Emmanuel Frémiet, c. 1880

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Barbedienne gilt bronze figure of Joan of Ark, cast after a model by Emmanuel Fremiet showing the maiden astride a warhorse, a laurel wreath on her head, a banner raised aloft, set on a green marble plinth with ormolu footrim. Inscribed to base F. Barbedienne. Fondeur. also signiature E. FREMIET to plinth, circa 1880.

Condition

signs of age,

Size

51cm high- plinth 25.5x9.5cm.

References

'Jeanne d'Arc' is an 1874 French gilded bronze equestrian sculpture of Joan of Arc, on display in the Place des Pyramides in Paris. In 1871, Napoleon III commissioned the larger-than-life work from prominent sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet. It was installed in Paris at the Place des Pyramides in 1874. The location was chosen because Joan was wounded at that spot in 1429 during the Siege of Paris and miraculously healed, adding to her myth as the messenger of God. The statue was meant to restore French morale following the crushing defeat in the third Franco-Prussian war in 1871, a humiliation remembered with vengeance among the French. Frémiet was never satisfied with his work, nor were the Parisians, many of whom were upset that she was depicted in her battle armor as opposed to clothes more traditionally appropriate for a female. Frémiet also believed that the proportions were not to scale. When the City of Nancy requested a reproduction of the statue in 1899, Frémiet saw this as the perfect opportunity to readjust the statue. His changes included a muzzle to hide the horse’s head and removing the harnesses around the rear. The same year, the statue in Paris was threatened by ongoing repairs to the street, allowing Frémiet to return the statue to his studio for protection. He took this opportunity to readjust the statue by making Joan 20 cm taller and made the horse’s neck thinner. He also changed the forehead and removed the rear harness, drawing more attention to the rider as opposed to the horse. As none of these changes are visible on the Barbedienne piece, it must have been based on the pre-1899 version. In 1908, the National Gallery of Victoria purchased a version and installed it in front of the Spencer Street gallery of the time, where it still stands to one side of the steps to the State Library.An identical example sold Bonhams 2005, minus the banners. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/13680/lot/4394/.

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