One featuring a number of other paintings, reliefs,

One of the most remarkable works in the 19th Century European Paintings section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Jules Bastien-Lepage;s 1879 Joan of Arc (Jeanne d;Arc).Although displayed in a long hall featuring a number of other paintings, reliefs, and sculptures, it draws a certain amount of attention because of its superior size. (100 x 110 inches)Yet despite its large scale, it does seem slightly crammed in with the great amount of other works collected in the room.(A piece of this size should be shown in a somewhat grander fashion; isolated more to highlight its magnificence.)It is flanked by Alfred Stevens; In the Studio and Alexandre Cabanel;s Birth of Venus on the left and right, respectively.Jeanne d;Arc seems to fit in with the works surrounding it, which logically all come from roughly the same time period.Paintings such as fellow Frenchman Pierre-Auguste Cot;s The Storm compliment it particularly well.
As detailed in the accompanying text panel, the work was originally put on public display in the Salon of 1880.There, it could be viewed with a host of other pieces by critics and commoners alike.The subject matter of Jeanne d;Arc would have been of particular interest to the French people.Jeanne, a long-time symbol of French strength and heroism (and France;s patron saint), gained a renewed importance during the Franco-Prussian War.
It is that striking depiction of Jeanne, in fact, which initially drew me to the work.When Ifirst encountered it, the rendering of the female figure seemed anachronistically photo-realistic (to the point where I wondered what that kind of work was doing among Impressionist and Realist paintings).However, upon further scrutiny of the piece, I quickly realized that it was just Bastien-Lepage;s incredibly detailed technique on the representation of the life-sized woman, coupled with the contrast of the more i…