Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- Joan of Arc was a French peasant who became a military leader around the age of 17. She challenged gender roles and became known as a savior of France.
- Joan of Arc is best known for leading French troops into battle against the English during the siege of Orléans in 1429. She was captured by English allies and burned at the stake. In 1920 she was declared a saint by the Catholic Church.
- Peter Paul Rubens, who was Catholic, created this painting during a time of conflict between the Catholics and Protestants. He was from an area of the Netherlands called Flanders. People from this area are referred to as Flemish or Flemings.
- Rubens was a Flemish Baroque painter who strongly influenced Flemish art and artists in the 17th century.
This painting depicts Joan of Arc, a French peasant born during the Hundred Years’ War (around 1412). She had visions in which Catholic saints told her she would save France from the English. She was about 17 years old when she courageously led French troops against the English siege of Orléans in 1429. The siege of Orléans had been going on for six months when Joan of Arc and her troops arrived. Nine days after they joined the fight, the siege was lifted. Joan was 19 years old when she was captured by the English and their French allies and burned at the stake for heresy, or “deviant” behavior (which included wearing men’s clothing) in 1431. Joan of Arc is a well-known martyr (a person who is killed because of their beliefs). In 1920 the Catholic Church declared her a saint. She is the patron saint of soldiers and of France.
Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens is best known for his religious and mythological paintings. He is considered the most influential artist of the Flemish Baroque tradition. He painted Joan of Arc more than 200 years after she was killed, during the ongoing war between the Protestant Dutch and the Catholic Flemings. This painting represents the artist’s religious beliefs and the importance that the Catholic Church placed on honoring its martyrs and heroes.
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