Portraits of Joan of Arc

Artwork by Bankotsu3625

Artwork by Bankotsu3625


Peasant girl.


Woman soldier.


Loved by a murderer.

On speaking terms with angels.

Her heart did not burn,

but the only portrait

drawn of her from life

was lost.

Ellaline Terriss as Joan of Arc, 1900′s

Ellaline Terriss as Joan of Arc, 1900′s

The closest thing is one from 1485

where her hair is drawn from her stylized face.

She seems at home in armour

and with a sword.

Her heavenly friends

are right by her ear

on the banner she carries.

Painting by Léon François Bénouville

Painting by Léon François Bénouville

Ingres paints a dignified picture –

of Joan on the day her king was crowned –

he’s nowhere to be seen –

the feeble consolation of history

choosing a favourite.

Here she is soft-cheeked, and yet hard –

her stance impressive enough

to keep one’s mind off the impossible waist,

the discreet halo showing

Painting by Ingres

Painting by Ingres

there’s much more going on

than an official scene.

I like the Millais

where she is vulnerable

and she is warrior.

How subtle

to paint her hair like that –

avoiding all explicit

Image by Michael C. Hayes

Image by Michael C. Hayes

signs of holiness.

From a distance,

her face looks anguished,

but if you look closely,

you’ll see that she is calm,



Photography by Paola Leonardi

Photography by Paola Leonardi

The armour is inaccurate in every portrait,

but, here,

her face brings me to peace

with the thought

that I can never know who she was.

Of the love God had for the English

she knew nothing.

Of the love God has for us all

I know nothing.

Anca Rotar is a Romanian-born writer, over-thinker and caffeine addict. She is the author of two books, Hidden Animals and Before It Sets You Free, both available from Among her interests, which she finds it hard to shut up about, she counts fashion, yoga, city breaks and deadpan sarcasm. She is also currently studying Japanese, so wish her luck. You can sample bits of Anca’s creative writing here.

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