“JEANNE D’ARC A DOREMY” AFTER MODEL BY HENRI MICHEL ANTOINE CHAPU (FRENCH, 1833-1891)
Exhibited 1870, present example circa 1875-90; foundry inscription of "F. Barbedienne Fondeur" w/ "A. Collas" reduction cachet
Item # 809RGH25A
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a broad movement of Romanticism artists were putting forth works of historical "celebrities", a topic that deeply resounded with sentiments of the time. When Chapu completed this work, originally in marble, he exhibited it at a highly opportune moment on the eve of the disastrous Franco-Prussian war - a moment of flagging morale when France was greatly in need of a heroine of her proportions to rescue the flagging morale. She was an almost immediate success, Chapu's first great triumph, and was first exhibited in sculpted marble at Salon in 1872 - this original is held at the Musee du Luxembourg.
Later being offered by the F. Barbedienne foundry, most of these editions retailed between the years of 1875-1890, they offered several edition sizes: 117 cm, 72 cm, 60 cm, 47 cm, 36 cm, 30 cm and 23 cm. An 1872 example founded by F. Barbedienne in the 117 cm edition is held at the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux.
The present example is a finished in a lovely brown patina, preserved under wax and clearly in outstanding condition. She is of utmost precision, every line and detail flawlessly chased and filed with great skill, the result being an inspiring portrayal of Joan of Arc. She is depicted as a simple shepherdess of a Lorraine village, her hands clasped in prayer as she firmly looks into the horizon, facing her destiny with a resolute strength. She believed that during these prayers she received the instruction to save France, at the time swallowed in The Hundred Years War. As she sits in repose on the naturalistic base, supported by nothing and in what should likely be a somewhat uncomfortable pose, she is relaxed and at ease with herself - in this, Chapu displays a mastery of the human figure that few of his school could command. The work is signed along the edge "Chapu" and along the back "F. Barbedienne Fondeur" w/ the seal of credit to the A. Collas mechanism for reduction.
Born in Le Mee (Seine-et-Marne) in September of 1833, Henri Michel Antoine Chapu was something of a rags-to-riches story of success, eventually becoming one of the official court sculptors of the Third Republic. He began his studies at Petit Ecole, later studying under Pradier and Duret when he joined Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1849. He spent some years in Rome, where he won the second grand prize for sculpture (Prix de Rome) and garnered his largest commercial success upon exhibiting the present example in 1872. He spent most of his professional life in Paris, eventually being elected as a member of the Institut in 1880. He died in Paris in April of 1891.
Literature & Further Reading:
Art Bronzes, Forrest, p. 39, fig. 2.65 - "Joan of Arc at Doremy" c. 1875 w/ accompanying text
Bronzes: Sculptors and Founders vol III, Berman, p. 687, f. 2523 - "Jeanne D'Arc - Enfant" c. 1880
Bronzes D'Art F. Barbedienne, Paris, 1886 edition, p. 47
Bronzes of the 19th Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Kjellberg, p. 199
Measurements: 17 5/8” H x 12 1/8” W x 11” D
Condition Report: Only the most minor of patina wear, subtle staining to crevices.