Le Jardin Jeanne d’Arc

Joan of Arc was long dead by the time the idea of a new France was sparking the imagination of sixteenth-century monarchs. And she was ancient history by the enlightened eighteenth century, when the French and English were fighting on the Plains of Abraham. By the early twentieth century, however, Joan was prominent again in the public consciousness. Beatified in 1909 and sainted in 1920, she was brought back to life by writers such as Alphonse de Lamartine, Jules Michelet, and Mark Twain.

Among the many who would adopt Joan of Arc as a subject for their art in the wake of her reinstatement was Anna Hyatt Huntington, a Massachusetts-born sculptor, who admired this heroine of the Hundred Years War for her religious zeal, her bravery, and her beauty. You can see all of these traits clearly in Hyatt Huntington’s statue of a standing Joan in New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Palms pressed together in prayer, the shepherdess-turned-knight is portrayed as elegant and tough, preparing for the battles to come.

But for Hyatt Huntington, Joan was at her best when she was on a horse; in fact, Hyatt Huntington herself was at her best as well. The artist’s father was a professor of zoology and a curator at the Boston Society of Natural History. Perhaps it was from him that she inherited an appreciation for animals in general and a passion for horses in particular. Over the course of her career, she sculpted countless animal subjects and chose to portray several of her human subjects in the saddle. Hyatt Huntington was thus thoroughly in her element when she unveiled in 1915 one of her crowning achievements, a triumphant statue of Joan of Arc, sword raised high, horse marching valiantly forward. The monument still stands at the corner of Riverside and 93rd Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Today, an identical copy of the sculpture stands on Quebec City’s Plains of Abraham, a gift from the sculptor herself in the 1930s. The National Battlefields Commission landscaped a park around it – le Jardin Jeanne d’Arc – to give Hyatt Huntington’s sculpture the dramatic stage it deserves. Her Joan fits well there, defiant and brave, patrolling the hallowed ground on which thousands of soldiers fought for their lives.



20 thoughts on “Le Jardin Jeanne d’Arc”

  1. It has been offer by a couple from New-York city who came to visit Quebec city one hundred years ago. They were surprised we were still all speaking french here. And Joan of Arc is knowed in europe to be part of the french resistant movement, so that rich couple thought it was a great idea to give us a Joan of Arc statue, since we were still speaking french, even if we’ve been run and surronded by the english for a long time.

  2. Francine Poulin

    Cette Jeanne d’Arc de l’artiste Hyatt Hunttington est très impressionnante par sa beauté et aussi pour son rappel à la bravoure et au courage. Elle est plus majestueuse en été.

  3. Mario Langlois

    Neil thank you very much for posting this brilliantly written article. I enjoyed it greatly. This garden is one of my favorite place in Québec. Again,with your text I can feel your love for this city and I’m happy that you so generously share it with all of us. Have a great summer Neil!

  4. Patricia Breault

    Love this! Such depth on something we may otherwise pass by without appreciating the background.

  5. Denis Laberge

    Hi Neil,

    This statue also has a strong political signification as it symbolically represents the courage and the pride of many générations of French people living in Québec who, over the centuries, courageously defended and even fought against the English (like Joan of Arc), refusing to be assimilated and protecting their own culture and French specificity in America. Actually, this statue is a direct tribute to my French Canadians ancestors, from the beginning of the colony to the Quiet Revolution period(1960’s.).

  6. Hi Neil,
    Last summer, I visited Brookgreen gardens in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Anna Hyatt Huntingdon and her husband who was also a sculptor, were the ownwers of that garden. You can see many statues sculpted by them as well as beautiful plants and trees. The guide in the garden talked to us about Anna’s admiration for Joan of Arc and she knew that there was a copy of her statue somewhere in the province of Quebec….Thank you Neil for your article.

  7. Thank you for sharing your passion for Quebec and the French history. I enjoy each article that you have shared. Keep up the great work.

  8. Tres intéressant. C’est toujours un emerveillement de voir comment certain/es de nos personnages sont valorisés en ces terres lointaines. Tres bel article (inclus les commentaires).

  9. Isabelle Guilbeault

    Cette statue a une signification sentimentale pour moi. Je venais d’arriver à Québec, en 1995. Le propriétaire de l’appartement que je louais dans le quartier St-Jean-Baptiste m’avait proposée de me faire visiter la Haute-Ville. Le soirée était belle – c’était au mois d’août – et en arrivant sur les Plaines, il me montre la statue de Jeanne d’Arc. Je ne le connaissais pas du tout, et il m’a vraiment surprise quand je l’ai entendu me parler d’une théorie sur la Pucelle d’Orléans: les prêtres auraient mis sur pied une “armée” de Jeanne d’Arc, des jeunes filles qui se ressemblaient et qui se trouvaient un peu partout en France pour créer et répandre le mythe et donner du courage au peuple. On aurait brûlé celle qui avait fini par croire qu’elle ètait bel et bien envoyée par Dieu et qu’elle allait “bouter les anglois hors de France”. Je n’avais jamais entendu parler de cette théorie, et je fus charmée par les connaissances de mon guide… qui est devenu par la suite mon mari et le père de mes enfants. C’est devant Jeanne d’Arc sur son cheval que je suis tombée amoureuse…

  10. Louise Labelle

    Merci Neil !
    tu donnes toujours une petite touche personnelle qui ajoute une couleur à nos connaissances. Et c’est souvent cette couleur que les gens aiment quand on fait nos tours.
    Merci encore.

  11. Merci Neil, un autre bon papier, une recherche poussée sur la vie de l’artiste. Ce qui m’a toujours fasciné c’est la présence de l’héroïne vendue par les Bourguignons aux anglais qui à Québec rend «un hommage aux héros de 1759-1760 » . Oh histoire : une épopée incroyable quant Jeanne d’Arc qui libère la France des Anglais. Ses compagnons de route, sa rencontre avec le roi et son procès.Ceci dit, le parc Jeanne d’Arc, est un jardin très prisé, très fleuri, très respecté. Bel été à toi.
    Sujets intéressants;
    1760 – The Mother Superior of the Ursuline Covent (Esther Wheelwright) et également
    1776 -, la venue des 10000 soldats allemands réclamé par le Roi Georges III, la Couronne n’a plus de soldats…britanniques.

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