Image: Tete de Saint Maurice Orleans

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Description: Old postcard, showing the photograph of the head of a saint's statue, discovered in 1827 in the ruins of the church of St-Maurice-St-Éloi in Orléans. Often identified as the head of a statue of Saint-Maurice modelled after Jeanne d'Arc, but more likely the head of a statue of Saint George. The head is in polychrome stone, and of considerably high quality, most likely made in the late 15th or early 16th century (the style of the sallet belongs to the mid 15th century). The postcard was sold in the Musée de sculpture comparée (after 1937 Musée des monuments français), but the head is identified as being kept in the Musée d'Orléans (founded 1823, now Musée historique et archéologique de l'Orléanais) (or possibly the photograph is of a plaster cast of the original that was on exhibit in Paris?). Caption: MUSÉE DE SCULPTURE COMPARÉE Tête de Saint Maurice, conservée au Musée d'Orléans et provenant de St-Eloi, longtemps désignée comme Jeanne d'Arc (commencement du XVIe siècle). -ND The idea that the head was modelled after Joan of Arc was very popular in 19th-century Romanticism, enthusiastically defended by Walter Scott, and still by Bernard Shaw, although it seems that the identification with Joan of Arc had come to be held untenable before 1900 (although it is still defended, at least on the Internet, today). Louis-Ernest Barrias (1841–1905) produced a clay sculpture of the head of Jeanne d'Arc based on the artefact (Petit Palais, musée des Beaux-arts de la Ville de Paris, inv. no. PPS1289). St-Éloi (or St-Éloi-St-Maurice) 14th-century parish church in Orléans (just west of Orléans cathedral ([1] 47°54′05″N 1°54′30″E / 47.9013°N 1.9083°E / 47.9013; 1.9083), formerly dedicated to Saint Maurice (but was re-dedicated to St Éloi in 1388[2]), for which reason the head was identified as a statue of that Saint. The argument was that, as St Maurice is usually depicted as a bearded moor, and this head is that of a clearly white young man (or woman, Walter Scott: "unquestionably the head of a girl of nineteen or so"), it stands to reason that it was directly modelled after St Joan. Modern art historians assume that it is not from a statue of St Maurice at all but rather from a statue of St George dating to the early 16th century. The church had been raided by Huguenots in 1567 and served as the seat of the guild of goldsmiths after that.[3] The head was discovered, apparently with fragments of the body, when the remains of a wall of the old church was torn down to make way for an extension of the sugar refinery of Louis-Auguste Pilté-Grenet (d. 1842, apparently a member of the Bande noire who had acquired the refinery from the Boislève family) on 19 November 1827. References [4] 19 novembre 1827. — En démolissant une partie du mur intérieur sud de l'ancienne église de Saint-Eloi d'Orléans, pour y place une machine à l'usage de la raffinerie de M. Pilté-Grenet qui y est étable, on trouva les fragmens d'une statue en pierre dure, représentant un guerrier ayant un casque et une cuirasse, d'une sculpture drés-gothique quoique bien faite; M. Pilté, fit sur-le-champ hommage de cette statue au Musée où elle fut déposée dans le cabinet des antiquités (28-76-77.) "Tête casquée découverte en 1820 dans les démolitions des restes de l'ancienne église Saint-Eloi-Saint-Maurice, considérée parfois, mais à tort, comme représentant Jeanne d'Arc; c'est en réalité une tête de St Georges." Val de Loire; Maine, Orléanais, Touraine, Anjou, Hachette (1963), p. 70. "A more compelling representation of Joan's facial features can be seen in a sculpted head in bronze [sic, it is not actually in bronze but in stone] (now in the Musée Jeanne d'Arc in Orléans [sic. there is no such museum. there was a museum with this name in Rouen until 2012, but it seems the head was never kept there]). The head is all that remains of a statue, formerly to be found in the now demolished church of Saint-Maurice. There is a tradition [sic, there is no such tradition, speculation to this effect was published after the discovery of the head in 1827] than when Joan entered Orléans in triumph after the siege was raised a sculptor modelled the head of his statue of St Maurice from Joan herself." Joan M. Edmunds], The Mission of Joan of Arc, Temple Lodge Publishing (2008) 40f. Michał Monikowski, Reconstructing the looks of Joan of Arc (2014) Les représentations de Jeanne (jeannedomremy.fr)
Title: Tete de Saint Maurice Orleans
Credit: old postcard, c. 1900–1918 (photograph may be older, c. 1889–1900)
Author: "ND" (either Étienne (1832-1918) or Louis-Antonin (1846-1914) Neurdein, Lévy et Neurdein réunis - 44 rue Letellier - Paris[5]
Usage Terms: Public domain
License: Public domain
Attribution Required?: No

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