State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 81 Autumn 2008


Ted Gott
An Iron Maiden for Melbourne—the History and Context of Emmanuel Frémiet's 1906 Cast of Jeanne d'Arc


In February 1905 Bernard Hall, the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, arrived in London to undertake the pleasant task of selecting the first works to be acquired for Melbourne with the funds granted to the Gallery by the recent bequest of Alfred Felton. In addition to purchasing a broad group of paintings, watercolours and small sculptures, Hall also had a specific agenda—to seek out a monumental bronze to complement the St George and the Dragon, the impressive sculpture by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm that had graced the front terrace of the Library, Gallery and Museum in Swanston Street since its acquisition in 1888 [Ed.: see cover image]. Travelling on to Paris in pursuit of this goal, Hall visited the studio of Emmanuel Frémiet, an artist then nearing the end of a highly successful career, who was recognised as France's leading sculptor of animalier and historicizing subjects. Hall subsequently reported back to the National Gallery Committee: 'With regard to a companion statue to the St George now in front of the Library, I was fortunate enough to meet M. Frémiet, without doubt the greatest living master in equestrian groups. He promised to send out an original sketch of "Perseus (on Pegasus) and Andromeda", and, as alternatives to try and procure from the municipality [permission] to reproduce his "St George", and, from the Minister of Art, his "Jeanne d'Arc" '.1 Arguing that Frémiet's St George and the dragon, 'as a romantic treatment of the same subject as ours, would make a most novel and interesting contrast' with the Boehm sculpture already in situ in Melbourne, Hall duly acquired a copy of this gilt bronze statuette from Frémiet. This popular statuette, first exhibited at the Paris Salon on 1891, had recently been scaled up to a colossal plaster of more than twice life-size, and cast in bronze for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, proving its potential for a prominent outdoor setting.2
After deliberation, the Gallery decided not to repeat the St George motif, but instead to commission from Frémiet a new cast of his Jeanne d'Arc, a life-size equestrian statue depicting an armoured Joan of Arc holding aloft her oriflamme or war banner. The first version of this sculpture had been erected in Paris, in the Place des Pyramides in 1874, and over the ensuing decades it had become one of Emmanuel Frémiet's most popular but also most controversial works. After the Gallery and Frémiet had agreed upon a fee of £1800, the artist supervised a new casting of his equestrian composition, which was ready for shipping to Melbourne in October 1906.

Fig. 1. Emmanuel Frémiet, French 1824-1910. Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc), 1874, bronze, life-size. Place des Pyramides, Paris (subsequently destroyed). Sepia-toned original stereoscope, possession of the author.

The decision to acquire a cast of Frémiet's famous Jeanne d'Arc for Melbourne was not without local controversy. John Poynter has documented how 'a leading article in the Argus attacked the Trustees and Hall for betraying the new Australia by setting up the image of a dead Frenchwoman as a national Australian monument'. 3 The Argus had argued that: 'A statue of Joan of Arc erected in an Australian city' was 'an almost inconceivable stupidity. So far from inspiring us with national pride, it will put us to shame in the permanent acknowledgement it offers of our ancestral infamy'.4 Frémiet himself had thought Hall's choice of the Jeanne d'Arc a bold one, which 'might shock some of your compatriots'. Shortly after Frémiet's death in 1910 a Parisian dealer also wrote to Hall, recalling how: 'I met him [Frémiet] walking in the street a few months ago, & he told me how flattered he was to see a French heroine (who had fought the English), by a French sculptor, bought by a British Museum. It proved to him how elevated your ideas were in art & that the saying is true "L'Art n'a pas de Patrie" '.5
The excitement attending the unveiling of Melbourne's new statue, in February 1907, served to dampen down controversy over the Trustees' choice of subject, so imposing and beautiful was Frémiet's masterpiece now found to be. The Age felt that:
The statue is an heroic conception … A proclamation of victory is suggested by the upright attitude of the figure and the proud high glance and expression of the countenance. M. Frémiet has conveyed no less successfully into the posture and proportions of the horse a sympathetic sentiment which makes it homogeneous with Joan, a complete embodiment of a war-like equestrienne at an inspiring moment …
The selection of M. Frémiet's work for so prominent a position may be taken as a compliment to France and an indication that there is a proper catholicity of taste brought into requisition in training Victorian art students.
The Herald praised the manner in which Frémiet 'has treated the work on heroic lines … The Joan the artist presents is Joan the triumphant; Joan the peasant girl, reaching the climax of her exalted mission'. While the Argus, despite insisting on the essential coarseness of Frémiet's conception, was eventually wooed by the manner in which the new sculpture complemented Boehm's St George:
Contrary to anticipation, the work has been carried out in a bright golden bronze, which the western sun made even more brilliant against the shadowed façade of the building. The leading idea the sculptor has sought to convey is the development of sustained power, physical energy, and vital dominant force, impelling onward to a goal. There is little or no attempt at idealism. The ethereal spirit expected in such an essay is not even suggested. The rigid figure stands firmly and erect in her stirrups … The face bears no trace of idealism, nor any touch of that mysticism we naturally look for in one who proclaimed she had a holy mission from Heaven; in fact, its tendency is towards the commonplace … The contrast between the two statues that flank the entrance to the library is remarkable. St. George and the Dragon is the perfection of alertness, beauty of line, and idyllic grace, while the Maid of Orleans is remarkable for its rugged strength, clumsiness, and uncompromising interpretation.6

Jeanne d'Arc I

Frémiet's Jeanne d'Arc was originally conceived in a spirit of patriotic fervour following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, designed as a symbol of national hope to negate the spiritual malaise that had attended France's crushing defeat by Germany. Emmanuel Frémiet, like many artists, had suffered considerably during the war. Not the least of his troubles was looting of his studio by military forces; as well as the destruction of many of his state-commissioned works in the burning of the Tuileries Palace and other public buildings. In 1891 the artist's friend and first biographer T. H. Bartlett recalled how:
The war had affected the sculptor deeply, and he wished to do something to give expression to what he felt, and as there was no subject in his country's history which appealed to him so forcibly as the rich and tragic life of the peasant girl of Domrémy, he resolved to commemorate both by making an equestrian statue of the patriot martyr; representing her in all the simple pride of her pure maidenhood as she held the banner of her beloved France toward heaven, as the source from whence she believed the divine mandate had come that was to enable her to free her country from the invaders.7
In the early 1870s Joan of Arc or Jeanne d'Arc's reputation was beginning to undergo a critical re-evaluation in France. Jeanne d'Arc was born in 1412 on the night of the Feast of the Epiphany (6 January) in the small village of Domrémy in eastern France. France at this time was deeply divided, power being split between two factions of the French royal family, the Orléanists, who championed native sovereignty, and the Burgundians, who supported
the claims of the English king to be the legal heir to the French throne. A pious child from birth, around 1424 the pubescent Jeanne began to experience visions of saints, and to hear heavenly voices. These voices became ever more insistent, leading Jeanne, at 16, to feel compelled to travel to Chinon, to the court of Charles de Ponthieu, whom the Orléanists believed to be the Dauphin, or rightful claimant to the French crown.
After much interrogation concerning her nationalist and theological motivations, and with the blessing of Charles de Ponthieu, Jeanne was provided with a specially fitted suit of white-metal armour and a banner of white cloth, covered with golden fleur-de-lys (the oriflamme, or flame-shaped pennant). Armed with this, she led the Dauphin's troops to a decisive victory in 1429, rescuing the city of Orléans from a long siege by an English army under the command of the Earl of Salisbury. The lifting of this siege enabled Charles de Ponthieu to travel to Reims, the traditional site of French coronations, to be anointed as King Charles VII of France. During this holy ceremony, Jeanne d'Arc stood next to the new king, holding aloft the oriflamme.
Other battles were to follow, including an abortive attempt to liberate Paris from Burgundian rule. This ended on 8 September 1429 when, while trying to cross the city's inner moat, Jeanne was wounded in the thigh by a crossbow dart. Undermined and betrayed by pro-English advisers within the court of the new Charles VII, Jeanne was subsequently captured by the Burgundian forces at Compiègne. Abandoned by the man she had helped crown king (for Charles VII refused to offer any ransom for her release) Jeanne was subjected to a long and humiliating show-trial at the English-held town of Rouen, on trumped-up charges of witchcraft and theological impropriety, at the end of which the English authorities condemned her to death. On 30 May 1431, at the tender age of 19 years, Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake.
A generation after her death Jeanne d'Arc was acquitted of all charges in another spectacular show-trial, and the long process of her sanctification began. Centuries of reverence for Jeanne d'Arc had developed into a veritable cult of La Pucelle or the Maiden, and in 1869 the Bishop of Orléans lobbied Rome for her beatification. This was finally achieved in 1909, with full canonization as a saint following in 1920.
Frémiet's equestrian homage to Jeanne d'Arc was created within a very few years of the first formal steps being taken towards her beatification. In 1872 Frémiet made a plaster statuette of his vision of La Pucelle as equestrian warrior (conserved today in the Musée d'Orsay), which, when shown to Ministry of Fine Arts, led to the immediate commissioning of a life-size bronze version for the City of Paris (Fig. 1). This was erected, without ceremony, in February 1874, in the Place des Pyramides adjacent to the Rue de Rivoli and the Tuileries Palace, on the spot where Jeanne was believed to have been wounded in 1429 during her abortive attack upon the English forces then occupying the city. Frémiet's second biographer, Jacques de Biez, wrote passionately of how the Jeanne d'Arc was installed in 1874 in a Paris 'still reeking of blood and fire', as the artist's 'healing secret' for his beloved France.
For de Biez the placement of Frémiet's sculpture in the Place des Pyramides, on the 'same site where an enemy arrow had struck down our nation's early liberator', signalled not only 'a rebirth for a damaged France' but symbolized visually 'France herself'. 8
If the installation of the Jeanne d'Arc monument took place quietly, as befitted a time of post-war austerity, its sudden appearance on the Place des Pyramides apparently unleashed a storm of criticism and protest—what Bartlett called 'the most general and active condemnation that ever greeted a work of art … "It was [declared to be] a disgrace to the nation, to the city, to art, and to every one connected with its existence" '. Part of this brouhaha, which concentrated upon a perceived imbalance between the tiny warrior and her stolid mount, was probably orchestrated by rival artists, many of them equally impoverished in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, who were furious that there had been no advertised competition for such a public monument. Frémiet himself confessed to Bartlett that: 'I was in despair when the public so generally cursed it'. At the time, he said, the statue was criticised as being 'too frivolous: a light-hearted, thoughtless girl, perched on a big horse … bearing no relation, even by suggestion to the gravity, earnestness and overwhelming solemnity of any phase of the martyr's life'. People also disliked the statue, he recalled, 'because Joan was not dressed after the manner of the theatres [i.e. she was shown in armour, instead of dressed as a page]. Then it shocked people especially because it was not made after the conventional way of subordinating the horse's size to the importance of the rider. I made it, as I do all my work, as my master [François Rude] taught me, keeping the exact proportion of nature between the rider and the horse. It also shocked people because they thought it not serious enough. I follow nature implicitly in all my work'. 9
In his own eyes, Frémiet had followed his principles of truth-to-nature to the letter in 1874, having shown the 17-year-old Jeanne as she doubtless had been in 1429, 'a frail girl atop a powerful war-horse, rather than a larger-than-life figure dominating a streamlined racing horse'. 10 In the mind of the public, however, he seemed to have sinned precisely because of his obsessive commitment to historical and physiological accuracy. Instead of depicting Jeanne on an elegant coursier, he had hoisted her up astride a percheron, the sort of blocky work-horse that she would in fact have ridden into battle. Jeanne herself was also generally perceived to be altogether too slight, seeming far too small perched atop this clodhopper. This tiny teenager could not possibly be France's great heroine; what was the artist thinking? Further, people were confronted by seeing the Maid of Orleans clad head to toe in form-fitting armour. This was a far cry from the gentler depictions of Jeanne by artists such as Frémiet's own teacher François Rude, whose popular Jeanne d'Arc from the mid 1840s had showed her as a femininely-dressed country girl in the act of hearing her divine voices, her armour placed discreetly to one side behind her full skirts. Frémiet's Jeanne d'Arc seemed at once too masculine and warlike, and yet paradoxically also too slight and delicate when paired with her staunchly robust mount.
After this outburst of criticism that the Jeanne d'Arc aroused in a volatile post-war
climate, Frémiet's statue settled into a honeymoon period of acceptance by the Parisian public. This was followed by a developing romance, among enthusiasts worldwide, with the stirring and heroic physical presence of this mounted warrior woman, as Frémiet's creation was increasingly recognised as a rare and successful embodiment of the spiritual essence of France's long struggle for liberty and self-determination. Frémiet regularly made reduced-size copies of his monumental outdoor bronzes, which were designed to be purchased for domestic interiors. Already, by 1891, Bartlett was able to remark upon how 'an extraordinary confirmation, unique in the history of real works of art, has been given to this statue [of Joan of Arc] by the sale of nearly three hundred copies of the reduction, at one hundred dollars each', mainly to collectors in France and the United States, thereby documenting the happy if perverse peregrination of Frémiet's statue from problem bastard child to fêted aesthetic dauphin.11

Jeanne d'Arc II

Frémiet himself, however, after witnessing the unexpected hostility that had greeted his homage to Jeanne d'Arc in 1874, harboured a gnawing and inescapable sense of immense damage having been done to his reputation. Over the years his former pride in the work that he had hoped would be immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece morphed inexorably into a paranoid obsession with its perceived defects, on all levels. As he told Jacques de Biez: 'I could no longer look at my sculpture. Having recognized its faults, whenever I walked by it I had to avert my eyes'. 12
As the nation gradually recovered from the devastations of the Franco-Prussian War, the sense of Jeanne d'Arc's indomitable spirit and her role as potent symbol of France's independence became increasingly reified. In 1889 General Boulanger's election to the seat of Deputy of Paris, with his barely-veiled agenda of a military dictatorship, coinciding with the centenary of the French Revolution, saw Joan of Arc claimed as a symbol by both the left and right of French politics. The developing cult of La Pucelle was also associated with the growth of anti-Semitism in France in the 1880s. Laura Morowitz has noted how: 'Although they were opposed on many issues, anti-Semites on the left and right were united in their nostalgic longing for a better age. For conservatives, the medieval era represented a period of valiant morals, of social order and Church power …On the left, the Middle Ages symbolized a pre-capitalist and organic society'. 13 Whether Jeanne d'Arc was hailed as a free revolutionary, or a staunch defender of Catholic monarchy, her celebrity increased exponentially at this time.
In 1889 Emmanuel Frémiet revisited his initial concept of an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, unveiling at the Paris Salon a second, life-size plaster of the young warrior on horseback. He had been prompted to revisit the subject by a commission from the City of Nancy, to create a replica of his Jeanne d'Arc monument in the Place des Pyramides. The original Jeanne d'Arc having become a painful symbol for Frémiet of the vicious criticism he had received in 1874, from which his ego had never recovered, he, not surprisingly, now
took advantage of this opportunity to create the motif anew, remedying the supposed 'defects' of his earlier work.14
According to Bartlett, writing two years later in 1891, Frémiet's second version of the equestrian Jeanne d'Arc
was welcomed with as general acceptation as the first one had been condemned. Two hundred and fifty newspapers spoke its praise, while a few criticised it severely. The very small number of artists who liked the first in 1874, and have increased in their admiration since, do not like the second … [This] was the starting point of what is at this time a thorough French craze, a very worship of the unfortunate peasant girl; and it is doubtful if any piece of French sculpture has been written about so much as that which Frémiet made to take the place of the first. 15
Frémiet's second sculpture remained hieratic and grounded, showing Jeanne paused momentarily before the walls of a besieged Paris, the rigidity of her pose echoing the defiant verticality of the oriflamme she holds aloft in her right hand. He made numerous minute changes, however, to his original conception of an armoured Joan of Arc riding to war. For the figure of Jeanne herself, Frémiet later declared that he contented himself with simply enlarging her size from 1.73 metres to 1.96 metres, thus giving her a mathematically incorrect, but more dominant, and therefore artistically and idealistically more 'correct' appearance. He appears though to have made the heroine slightly older looking now, and more womanly in form. 16The major changes were made, however, to Jeanne's mount. In addition to a giving a more proud stance to the horse's head, Frémiet covered the steed's face with a chanfrein, or heraldic carapace, and also removed the harness straps from the rump of the horse. Both changes served to mask somewhat the vibrant, snorting personality of the first horse, thereby focussing the viewer's attention more directly up towards the majestic, enlarged rider in the saddle.
Critical opinion on Frémiet's new version was understandably diverse. Salon commentator Georges Lafenestre pointed out, quite fairly, that 'the artist alone had the right to judge [his previous work] so severely'. Distinguishing between the two works, he felt nonetheless that in the earlier sculpture the heroine's 'innate idealism was more honestly expressed' while 'in the new work, the sculptor seems to have wanted to convey a more natural vision'. 17 Pointing out how he felt obliged 'to take sides against the artist himself, in defense of his earlier conception', Maurice Hamel argued that the 1874 statue had seemed to be 'the spirit and the flame' of Jeanne d'Arc herself, whereas Frémiet's 1889 version was more like 'her big sister … more serious, and solemn, but not so compelling' in presence. 18
Some critics were extremely shocked, in fact, by Frémiet's bold revisiting of what had perversely become, by then, a much-loved public monument. Bartlett quoted the opinion of the influential critic Paul Mantz, for example, who wrote in Le Temps that:
We can today reassure M. Frémiet that he is the only one in Paris that is not satisfied with his [1874] work. The "Joan of Arc" of the Place des Pyramides, a little thin, a little girlish on her enormous work-horse, is one of the most original figures of the time; and if, at first, she surprised a few persons, she very soon won good judges in her favour. We
are all in accord in finding intelligent, subtle even, the contrast which exists between the little fighter and the rustic animal that she rides. Whatever was said when it first appeared, the "Joan of Arc" of the Place des Pyramides is a work of great value, and many of us cannot see the necessity of correcting it. 19

The Switch

Ignoring the reservations of such critics, Frémiet now supervised two life-size bronze casts of this second, more heroic version of the Jeanne d'Arc. The first was installed in Nancy, as part of that city's celebrations of the centenary of the French Revolution. The second was destined for the United States, following a resolution taken by the French community of Philadelphia to mark the same centenary by erecting a copy of Frémiet's masterpiece in that city's Fairmount Park. After delays with its casting and international shipping, Philadelphia's Jeanne d'Arc was unveiled in Fairmount Park on 15 November 1890. Curiously, the contract that Frémiet had signed with the Philadelphia authorities agreed not only that he would provide them with 'an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc in bronze, and similar to that of the Place des Pyramides', but also stipulated that 'there will be only three editions of this statue, that of the place des Pyramides, that of Philadelphia and one in Nancy'. 20 There the matter should have ended.
Without wanting to accuse Frémiet of duplicity, one must suggest that he perhaps exercised a certain degree of sophistry in signing such a contract. In hindsight, it seems clear that he viewed the third contractually permissible copy of his Jeanne d'Arc to be not the 1874 original that still graced the Place des Pyramides near the Rue de Rivoli and the Tuileries, but an as-yet unrealised third cast of his updated version of the statue.
For Frémiet secretly yearned to replace the 1874 statue, whose presence in the Place des Pyramides constantly shamed him. This original Jeanne d'Arc remained in place for another decade until, around 1898, Frémiet found the money to cast a third life-size bronze of the second version for himself, the existence of which he kept secret even from his wife.21 He now bided his time, until the right opportunity presented itself. When, in April 1899, the sculptor was informed that construction of a new Métro station might endanger the statue in the Place des Pyramides, he acted quickly, successfully petitioning the Direction des Beaux-Arts for permission to remove the Jeanne d'Arc to the safety of the Barbedienne bronze foundry until certain Métro works had been completed. After ten days the statue was returned to its original location. Or so it was thought at the time.
On 16 May 1899, Parisians awoke to find a gleaming gold vision adorning the Place des Pyramides (Fig. 2). During the short period that the sculpture was with the Barbedienne foundry Frémiet appeared to have gilded his Jeanne d'Arc, as a surprise gift to the city. This gilding had perhaps been undertaken partially to deflect attention away from the fact that the artist had actually clandestinely switched the first and second versions of his sculpture (and the gilding certainly served to mask the fact that a weathered bronze statue had been

Fig. 2. Emmanuel Frémiet, French 1824-1910. Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc), 1889 (cast c.1898), gilt bronze, life-size. Place des Pyramides, Paris.

replaced with a freshly cast one). 22 Further, while the 1874 statue was briefly removed from the Place des Pyramides, Frémiet had instructed the Barbedienne foundry to melt down this original and only cast ever made of the first Jeanne d'Arc. It could be argued perhaps that he was compelled to do this, bound by the terms of his 1889 contract with Philadelphia that 'there will be only three editions of this statue'. In reality, though, he was fulfilling his dream of rectifying, at last, the blight on his reputation that he felt had been caused by the supposedly ill-proportioned 1874 statue.
Amazingly, it took four years for the switch to be recognised. Presumably those who noticed different details in the work, such as the chanfrein now covering the horse's head, thought these to be simply new embellishments to the original statue, applied in the same spirit as the gilding itself. When the scandal broke in the Parisian press in 1903, Frémiet came clean, and confessed to both the illicit substitution of one work for the other, and to the destruction of the original sculpture. A storm of articles attacked the artist for switching
the versions, lamented the loss of the much-loved 1874 statue, and debated the rights of an artist to modify work that had entered the public domain. 23 Conspiracy theories also now proliferated, the most persistent of which suggested that Frémiet had sold his original Jeanne d'Arc to another client, rather than destroying it. As late as 1925 the New York Times Magazine purported to have uncovered the fact that the 1874 version had not actually been melted down, but rather sent secretly to America by Frémiet, to be erected in Philadelphia. The article misleadingly reproduced a photograph of the 1874 Jeanne d'Arc, labelled as the Philadelphia work. 24
Frémiet himself remained unrepentant concerning his bold substitution of the later sculpture for his earlier, pilloried work. As he told his biographer Jacques de Biez: 'Today I am content. And pleased with my sculpture. I no longer have to turn aside my head so as not to look at it whenever I pass by [the Place des Pyramides]. The exercise cost me 20,000 francs. But what satisfaction that money bought me'. 25
The Parisian press may have been encouraged to look closely again at Frémiet's famous statue in 1903, by news that he had agreed in that year to cast another life-size bronze of the second version of his statue. This resulted from a bequest that had been made to the town of Mirecourt, in the Vosges département, Lorraine, for the specific purpose of erecting a monument to Joan of Arc.26
When Bernard Hall visited Frémiet's studio in 1905, to discuss the possibility of a cast of the Jeanne d'Arc being made for Melbourne, he must have known that this would be the fifth life-size cast to be made of the second version of Frémiet's sculptural conception—and the second to be subsequently cast in potential breach of the artist's 1889 contract with Philadelphia. David Sellin has noted that Frémiet 'introduced minor variations' into the Melbourne version of his sculpture (and presumably into the Mirecourt version as well), so as to keep to the strict letter of his agreement with Philadelphia; and that therefore, when the Jeanne d'Arc was erected outside Melbourne's Library, Gallery and Museum in February 1907, 'including the one destroyed, there were six monumental Joans in three variants'. 27

The Gorilla

After shipping the Jeanne d'Arc to Melbourne in late 1906, Frémiet wrote to tell Bernard Hall that: 'I must tell you why a second sculpture accompanies the Joan of Arc, in a separate crate. This bronze represents a gorilla carrying off a woman, and here is an explanation of its presence. When I billed you for the Joan of Arc, I had expected the work to be gilded. After you abandoned the idea of gilding the statue, I thought I would make up the difference in price by sending my Gorilla to your Museum. It is … my pleasure to present you with one of the great characters of my art'. 28 Frémiet drew an image of this surprise gift onto his letter, a sketch of his famous Gorille enlevant une femme or Gorilla carrying off a woman, a life-size plaster sculpture of Darwinian resonance that had brought him both notoriety and fame at the Paris Salon of 1887. As with the Jeanne d'Arc, reduced-scale bronze statuettes of this

Fig. 3. Emmanuel Frémiet, French 1824-1910. Gorilla carrying off a woman, 1887, bronze, 44.7 x 30.6 x 33.1 cm. National Gallery of Victoria. Gift of the artist, 1907.

composition had sold well for the artist ever since; and it was one of these statuettes that the artist now presented to Melbourne (Fig. 3).
The Gorilla carrying off a woman was also in many ways a signature piece for Frémiet, its two monumental plaster versions, unveiled in 1859 and 1887 respectively, having caused as much hullabaloo for the artist as his twin equestrian depictions of Joan of Arc. 29 Further, an unexpected occurrence had symbolically united these two statues for the sculptor.
Discussing with Jacques de Biez his long-held dream to replace the 1874 Jeanne d'Arc, Frémiet recalled how: 'The financial implications were enormous. I had to come up with 20,000 francs. But where from? … How could I afford to cast my new version in bronze? I was thinking of visiting M. de Rothschild and telling him of my scheme, when a godsend landed in my lap. A commission from an American collector gave me the funds I needed'. He told de Biez that a 'très yankee` and extremely rich gentleman from Chicago had visited his studio around 1898, ordering life-size bronze versions of his Gorilla carrying off a woman and the Dénicheur d'oursons or Bear-cub stealer (also known as Bear and Man of the Stone Age) of 1885, a sculpture depicting a bear crushing a hunter in a death embrace. 30 Money was no impediment. Late in 1899, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported on how: 'Ex-Congressman Ben Cable of Rock Island, Ill., has just made two remarkable art purchases in Paris' that were intended to be 'a present to Mr Cable's alma mater, the University of Michigan'. 31 'It was by secretly diverting the funds from this commission, instead of banking them', Frémiet concluded, 'that I was able to cast my personal copy of my new Joan of Arc in bronze, without telling anyone'. 32
Frémiet might therefore never have realised his dream of seeing his second, improved version of the Jeanne d'Arc displayed in the Place des Pyramides, without this unexpected commission for a monumental bronze version of his popular Gorilla carrying off a woman (the only life-size bronze ever cast of that work). In the artist's mind the two works, already associated by both their immense popularity and the enormous scandals they had respectively aroused, were now inseparably linked companions. When Emmanuel Frémiet was thinking of a gift for Melbourne, the gorilla statuette would thus have seemed a natural companion for the Jeanne d'Arc, a pairing in the antipodes of his most celebrated and controversial creations.
Note: I am most grateful to Terence Lane for providing me with the stereoscopic photograph of Frémiet's original 1874 Jeanne d'Arc.


Bernard Hall, 'Report to the Chairman of the National Gallery Committee', 27 July 1905, Shaw Research Library, National Gallery of Victoria. Hall had been introduced to Frémiet by the Parisian dealers Arnold & Tripp.


This monumental bronze of the St George and the dragon was acquired by the City of Paris in 1901, and is sited today in the town of Barentin in the Seine-Maritime département, Haute-Normandie. For full details of the various versions of this work, see Catherine Chevillot, Emmanuel Frémiet, 1824-1910. La Main et le multiple, exh. cat., Dijon: Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1988, p. 144. A photograph showing this colossal version of the St George and the dragon was reproduced in the journal L'Illustration, no. 2985, 12 May 1900, p. 299.


John Poynter, Mr Felton's Bequests, Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 2003, p. 266.


Argus, 26 November 1906, cited in Poynter, 2003, p. 266.


Emmanuel Frémiet to Bernard Hall, 28 May 1907. R. H. Tripp to Bernard Hall, 12 September 1910. Bernard Hall Archives, National Gallery of Australia Research Library, Canberra.


'News of the Day', Age, 2 February 1907. 'Joan of Arc. New Statue for Melbourne', Herald, 1 February 1907. 'Joan of Arc Statue. Unpacking the Case', Argus, 2 February 1907.


T. H. Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—V ', American Architect and Building News, vol. 31, no. 796, 28 March 1891, p. 202.


Jacques de Biez, E. Frémiet, Paris, Jouve, 1910, pp. 136, 138.


Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—V ', 1891, pp. 202-203.


Philippe Fauré-Frémiet, Les Maîtres de l'art. Frémiet, Paris: Libraries Plon, 1934, p. 109.


Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—V ', 1891, p. 203. Bartlett further noted that 'the commercial attraction of the reduction is well understood by the two largest art houses in France, Barbedienne, and the old house of Goupil, for, during more than fifteen years, a copy has always been seen in their windows'. Ibid.


De Biez, 1910, p. 151.


Laura Morowitz, 'Anti-Semitism, Medievalism and the Art of the Fin-de-Siècle', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 20, no. 1, 1997, p. 36. Frémiet's biographer Jacques de Biez was cofounder, with Edouard Drumont, of La Ligue nationale antisémitique in 1889. Morowitz, p. 37. On the nationalist and political implications of Frémiet's 1889 version of the Jeanne d'Arc, see also Chevillot, 1988, pp. 44-46.


Although Bartlett suggests that the Nancy commission followed on from Frémiet's showing of his revised Jeanne d'Arc at the 1889 Salon, Chevillot confirms that Nancy's interest in this subject had led the artist to undertake this new version of the sculpture. T. H. Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—VII', American Architect and Building News, vol. 32, no. 801, 2 May 1891, p. 72; Chevillot, 1988, p. 128.


Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—VII', 1891, p. 70.


This point warrants further investigation, as the present author has been able to date to examine only a limited number of surviving photographs of the 1874 version of Frémiet's statue. Certainly the critic Paul Mantz, writing in Le Temps in 1889, noted that Frémiet's new 'Joan is less young, more of a woman; a certain robustness has been substituted for the slenderness of childhood'; quoted in Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—VII', 1891, p. 70. If Frémiet did significantly alter the features of Joan herself in 1889, this may help to explain the subsequent growth of conflicting stories about who actually modelled for the artist. Bartlett, writing about the 1874 statue, noted how 'The admirers of Joan's head and face may add to their pleasure by remembering that they bear a very close resemblance to the youngest daughter of the sculptor, herself an artist of fine talent, and a frequent exhibitor in the Salon'. Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—V ', 1891, p. 203. Both of Frémiet's daughters, Marie (born 1856) and Emma (born 1858), aged sixteen and fourteen years respectively in 1872, would have been of a suitable age to model for Frémiet's first conception of the 17-year-old French heroine. However, a certain Jeanne Valerie Laneau, who 'like her namesake, was a peasant girl who never married', and who died in a domestic fire in 1936, 'burned alive just as the heroine for whom she modeled', was also later claimed in the American press to have been the original model for the 1870s statue. See 'Model for Joan of Arc Statue Burns to Death', Chicago Daily Tribune, 12 February 1936, p. 13; and also 'Joan of Arc Model Dies. Paris Blast Kills Woman Who as Girl Posed for Frémiet's Statue', New York Times, 12 February 1936, p. 11. With respect to the second version of the statue, Bartlett cited the outraged, anti-German sentiments of a critic writing under the soubriquet of Ignoto, who demanded of Frémiet in 1889: 'Why did you make a German girl? I have been told that you went to Lorraine to make a series of studies in order to find the type of your young heroine. What matters it anyway! It was a real young French girl that should have been made. You are very much deceived, for this heavy face is not a Lorrainer, nor even an Alsatian, but a Bavarian'. Bartlett assured his readers, however, that: 'It was stated in the beginning of the short history of Frémiet's first statue that the face of Joan bore a close resemblance to his youngest daughter; it may now be added that the face of the second Joan is a near likeness to the same lady, now the wife of M. Fauré, the choir-master of the Madeleine Church and a composer of high merit'. Confusing the ages of Frémiet's two daughters, Bartlett was here referring to Marie Frémiet, who married the composer Gabriel Fauré. Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—VII', 1891, pp. 71-72. For many years too, an Australian connection was thought to have existed with Frémiet's second version of the Jeanne d'Arc. This concerned the belief that the model in 1889 was Anne-Marie Mattiocco (called Marianna), wife of the expatriate Australian painter John Peter Russell, who had become one of Rodin's favourite models around 1888. See Colette Reddin, 'The Story of a Fine Statue: Melbourne's Joan of Arc', Advocate Magazine, 27 March 1969, p. 15. It has been argued, though, that Marianna's posing for Frémiet in 1889 'would seem unlikely, as she was then the mother of two children and hardly likely to be taken for a [teenager]'; Ann Galbally, The Art of John Peter Russell, Melbourne: Sun Books, 1977, p. 28. Bartlett's insistence that Marie Frémiet was the model for both versions of the Jeanne d'Arc certainly deserves serious consideration.


Georges Lafenestre, Le Salon de 1889, Paris: Goupil & Cie, 1889, p. 90. One wonders what Frémiet would have made of this complete inversion of his intensions when creating both versions of this problematic statue.


Maurice Hamel, "Salon de 1889: III. La Sculpture', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 31, no. 2, 1 July 1889, p.21.


Paul Mantz, quoted in Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—VII', 1891, p. 70.


Contract between Frémiet and the Fairmount Park Art Association, 16 September 1889; cited in David Sellin, 'Joan of Arc', in Fairmount Park Art Association, Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia's Treasures in Bronze and Stone, Philadelphia: Walker, 1974, p. 126.


De Biez, 1910, p. 151.


Pierre Angrand speculated that the gilding of the second version of the Jeanne d'Arc in 1899 had perhaps been a deliberate camouflage on Frémiet's part; see Pierre Angrand, 'Une—ou deux—Jeanne d'Arc sur la Place des Pyramides?', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 77, May-June 1971, p. 346. It is not inconceivable that Frémiet was also influenced in his decision to gild his statue in 1899 by seeing a production of the poet Auguste Dorchain's musical pantomime Jeanne d'Arc that was performed at the Paris Hippodrome on 25 June 1890. Bartlett wrote that 'this pantomime embraced … the chief events of her life, and closed with the last tragic one, where she is burned at the stake in the square at Rouen. There she disappeared in flame and smoke, and from these mysterious elements there rose a gilded, full-size model of Frémiet's statue'. Bartlett, 'Emmanuel Frémiet—VII', 1891, p. 72.


The full story of Frémiet's switching of the two statues, and the ensuing press outcry, is told in Angrand, 1971, pp. 341-352.


'Ruse Gave America the "Joan" of Paris. Original Statue by Frémiet Stands in Philadelphia, His Substitute is in the French Capital', New York Times Magazine, 5 July 1925, p. 4. This article failed to recognize that the Philadelphia version of Frémiet's sculpture had been commissioned in 1889 and installed in Fairmount Park in November 1890, thereby long predating the controversial 'switch'.


De Biez, 1910, pp. 153-154.


Angrand, 1971, p. 347.


Sellin, 1974, p. 130. A detailed comparison of the differences between the Melbourne version of Frémiet's Jeanne d'Arc and those situated in Paris, Nancy, Philadelphia and Mirecourt is beyond the scope of this article, but would doubtless be most illuminating. Following Frémiet's death in 1910, further life-size casts of the 1889 version of the statue have been erected in Lille, Castres, Saint-Etienne, New Orleans, and Portland, Oregon. See Chevillot, 1988, p. 127.


Emmanuel Frémiet to Bernard Hall, 13 December 1906. Bernard Hall Archives, National Gallery of Australia Research Library, Canberra.


The reception and meaning of Frémiet's two gorilla compositions have been considered in detail in a number of recent publications. See Marek Zgórniak, 'Dlaczego goryl Fremieta porywa kobiete?', Folia Historiae Artium, 8–9, 2002/2003, pp. 77–90; Ted Gott, 'Carried Away: Emmanuel Frémiet's Gorilla Carrying Off a Woman', Art Bulletin of Victoria, no. 45, 2005, pp. 7 –17; Ted Gott and Kathryn Weir, Kiss of the Beast. From Paris Salon to King Kong, Exhibition Catalogue, Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery, 2005; Marek Zgórniak, 'Frémiet's Gorillas: Why Do They Carry Off Women', Artibus et historiae, vol. 27, no. 54, 2006, pp. 219-237; and Ted Gott, ' "It is Lovely to be a Gorilla, Sometimes": The Art and Influence of Emmanuel Frémiet, Gorilla Sculptor' in David R. Marshall ed., Art, Site and Spectacle. Studies in Early Modern Visual Culture, Melbourne: Fine Arts Network, 2007, pp. 198-219.


De Biez, 1910, pp. 151-152.


'Ben Cable Buys Art Works', Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 December 1899, p. 10. The Tribune appears to have garbled its facts somewhat, referring to Cable's purchase of an orang-utan sculpture and one depicting a centaur. Photographs of the colossal versions of both the Gorille enlevant une femme and the Dénicheur d'oursons, purchased by Benjamin Cable, were reproduced by the Tribune the following month; 'Two of Frémiet's Great Bronze Figures', Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 January 1900, p. 6. These life-size bronzes subsequently spent some years in New York's Natural History Museum, before being given to the American sculptor Lorado Taft, and eventually given, through his heirs, to the University of Illinois. Once displayed outdoors in the university's Robert Allerton Park at Urbana-Champaign, they are currently housed indoors at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois. I am most grateful to Robert G. La France, Associate Curator for Pre-Modern Art at the Krannert Art Museum, for his assistance with clarifying the provenance of these sculptures. See also Peter Fusco and H. W. Jansson, The Romantics to Rodin. French Nineteenth-Century Sculpture from North American Collections, Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and George Braziller, 1980, p. 276.


De Biez, 1910, p. 152.