The Life of Joan of Arc Part 129

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[Footnote 2775: _Le champion des dames_, MS. of the fifteenth century; _Bibl. nat._, fonds francais, No. 841; Martial d'Auvergne, MS. of the end of the fifteenth century, fonds francais, No. 5054. An initial of a fifteenth-century Latin MS., _Bibl. nat._, No. 14665.]

While the Maid lived, and especially while she was in captivity, the French hung her picture in churches.[2776] In the Museum of Versailles there is a little painting on wood which is said to be one of those votive pictures. It represents the Virgin with the Child Jesus, having Saint Michael on her right and Jeanne d'Arc on her left.[2777] It is of Italian workmanship and very roughly executed. Jeanne's head, which has disappeared beneath the blows of some hard-pointed instrument, must have been execrably drawn, if we may judge from the others remaining on this panel. All four figures are represented with a scrolled and beaded nimbus, which would have certainly been condemned by the clerics of Paris and Rouen. And indeed others less strict might accuse the painter of idolatry when he exalted to the left hand of the Virgin, to be equal with the Prince of Heavenly Hosts, a mere creature of the Church Militant.

[Footnote 2776: _Trial_, vol. i, p. 100. N. Valois, _Un nouveau temoignage sur Jeanne d'Arc_, pp. 8, 13.]

[Footnote 2777: Reproduced in chromo in Wallon's _Jeanne d'Arc_.]

Standing, her head, neck, and shoulders covered with a kind of furred hood and tippet fringed with black, her gauntlets and shoes of mail, girt above her red tunic with a belt of gold, Jeanne may be recognised by her name inscribed over her head, and also by the white banner, embroidered with _fleurs-de-lis_, which she raises in her right hand, and by her silver shield, embossed in the German style; on the shield is a sword bearing on its point a crown. A three-lined inscription in French is on the steps of the throne, whereon sits the Virgin Mary.

Although the inscription is three parts effaced and almost unintelligible, with the aid of my learned friend, M. Pierre de Nolhac, Director of the Museum of Versailles, I have succeeded in deciphering a few words. These would convey the idea that the inscription consisted of prayers and wishes for the salvation of Jeanne, who had fallen into the hands of the enemy. It would appear therefore that we have here one of those _ex voto_ hung in the churches of France during the captivity of the Maid. In such a case the nimbus round the head of a living person and the isolated position of Jeanne would be easily explained; it is possible that certain excellent Frenchmen, thinking no evil, adapted to their own use some picture which originally represented the Virgin between two personages of the Church Triumphant. By a few touches they transformed one of these personages into the Maid of God. In so small a panel they could find no place more suitable to her mortal state, none like those generally occupied at the feet of the Virgin and saints by the kneeling donors of pictures. This too might explain perhaps why Saint Michael, the Virgin and the Maid have their names inscribed above them. Over the head of the Maid we read _ane darc_. This form _Darc_ may have been used in 1430.[2778] In the inscription on the steps of the throne I discern _Jehane dArc_, with a small _d_ and a capital _A_ for _dArc_, which is very curious. This causes me to doubt the genuineness of the inscription.

[Footnote 2778: The form _Darc_ occurs in the condemnation trial (_Trial_, vol. i, p. 191, vol. ii, p. 82). But side by side we find also _Dars_ (document dated March 31, 1427), _Day_ (patent of nobility), _Daiz_ (communicated to me by M. Pierre Champion) and _Daix_ (_Chronique de la Pucelle_).]

The _bestion_ tapestry[2779] in the Orleans Museum,[2780] which represents Jeanne's arrival before the King at Chinon, is of German fifteenth-century workmanship. Coarse of tissue, barbarous in design, and monotonous in colour, it evinces a certain taste for sumptuous adornment but also an absolute disregard for literal truth.

[Footnote 2779: Tapestry representing small animals.--W.S.]

[Footnote 2780: Reproduced in chromo in Wallon's _Jeanne d'Arc_, _cf._ J. Quicherat, _Histoire du costume en France depuis les temps les plus recules, jusqu' la fin du XVIII'e siecle_, Paris, 1875, large octavo, p. 271.]

Another German work was exhibited at Ratisbonne in 1429. It represented the Maid fighting in France. But this painting is lost.[2781]

[Footnote 2781: _Trial_, vol. v, p. 270.]

The Life of Joan of Arc Part 129

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The Life of Joan of Arc Part 129 summary

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