Feel Art Again: "Joan of Arc at Coronation of Charles VII"

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On this date 576 years ago, Joan of Arc was handed over to Bishop Pierre Cauchon for interrogation. The nineteen-year-old French heroine is today a much beloved figure celebrated in books, movies, and paintings. One of the most famous paintings of Joan is Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' "Joan of Arc at Coronation of Charles VII." In honor of Joan and Ingres, who died in January 1867, let's take a closer look at "Joan of Arc at Coronation of Charles VII."

1. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was 73 when he painted "Joan of Arc at Coronation of Charles VII." A large portion of the work for the painting was done by assistants. A year later, one of Ingres' students produced an almost identical painting. The only major difference? In the student's painting, Joan isn't wearing a skirt.

2. Both an artist and musician himself, Ingres became engaged to Marie-Anne-Julie Forestier, a painter and musician, in 1806. The engagement fell apart, though, when Ingres refused to return to Paris from Rome after his Salon exhibit that year received harsh criticism from the public and other artists. Seven years later, he married Madeleine Chappelle, whom he had courted through letters and to whom he had proposed without ever meeting her. The marriage was quite happy, and he was devastated when she died in 1849. Three years later, he married Delphine Ramel, and enjoyed just as happy a marriage as his first one.

3. Joan's plate armor in the painting was artistic license (common among many artists); she never wore plate armor in real life.

4. Napoleon's reign collapsed while Ingres was in Rome, leaving Ingres stranded without patronage. He was left to earn his livelihood drawing small pencil portraits of tourists, work that he considered menial. Visitors would ask, "Is this where the man who draws the little portraits lives?" Ingres would answer, "No the man who lives here is a painter!"

5. Ingres only attended school for six years, as his school closed when he was only 11. Although he later went on to study art and music at the Académie Royale de Peinture, Sculpture et Architecture, he remained insecure about his lack of schooling.

6. When Ingres died, his studio contained over 4,000 drawings, as well as several major paintings and his violin (he was second violinist in an orchestra as a teen and continued to play the rest of his life). The artwork and the violin were bequeathed to the city museum of Montauban, which has now become the Musée Ingres.