This Caproni cast is a copy of the 1870-72 statue by French artist Henri Chapu now located in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France. Chapu chose to depict the famous 15th-century saint not as a warrior in armor but as a young girl in her village of Domrémy when she first heard the mystical voices urging her to aid Charles of Valois regain the French crown and the territories around Domrémy from the English. Chapu’s statue gained immediate and wide renown after its display at the annual French Salon in 1870; with the annexation of the Alsace-Lorraine region after the Franco-Prussian war, Joan of Arc’s popularity soared as a national emblem, and Chapu’s statue of the saint became one of the most famous and replicated images. Given the growing presence of the Franco-American community in Lowell at the end of the 19th century, it is not surprising that school administrators chose this statue along with the Nike of Samothrace already mentioned.
Photo by Michael Page.
The original Caproni cast purchased by the school c. 1910 is now used by art students in the studios of Dugan Hall; the version you see here is a recent copy, like the Nike, purchased as part of the renovation of Coburn Hall in 2018. The statue has taken on a new life in the hallways: it is regularly decorated with seasonal attire for the various holidays throughout the year.
Detail of foot and drapery. Photo by Michael Page.
Detail of clothing and shoulder bag. Photo by Michael Page.