Joan of Arc in the Stereoscope

Joan of Arc in the Stereoscope

By Denis Pellerin

Considering she lived between 1412 and 1431, there is no way there can be photographs of French heroine and patron saint of France Joan of Arc, but the idea behind this article began when I came across an incomplete series of nine stereo photographs on glass depicting the first Joan of Arc Festival that took place at Compiègne on 23 and 30 May 1909 and which has been going ever since at regular intervals [1]. The glass stereos are in the Verascope Richard format (45 x 107 mm) and in fairly good condition, which is not often the case since, in such photographs, the emulsion is not protected at all and the images usually end up being terribly scratched. These nine stereo slides prompted me to find out more about the circumstances surrounding their taking and, in the process, about other stereoscopic representations of The Maiden of Orléans.

Strangely enough, the earliest staged stereoscopic images depicting Joan of Arc seem to have been taken in Britain, not in France. On 10 November 1857, British stereo photographer and early master of genre stereo cards James Elliott (c. 1833-after 1901), copyrighted several variants of a staged scene entitled Joan of Arc taken prisoner. The images are part of a series sold under the generic title English History Series [2] and this particular tableau depicts how Joan of Arc was made a prisoner outside the fortified walls of Compiègne on 24 May 1430. An extract from Lord Mahon’s History of Joan of Arc is printed on the back of the cards. Philip Henry Stanhope, fifth Earl Stanhope (1805-1875) was known as Viscount or Lord Mahon from 1816 to the death of his father in 1855. This Tory politician is best remembered as an antiquarian, for his contributions to cultural causes (among other achievements he proposed and organised the foundation of the National Portrait Gallery) and for his historical writings. His history of Joan of Arc originally appeared in the Quarterly Review in 1842 and was published in book form in 1853.

Elliott’s stereos were advertised in The Times as early as 11 November 1857. As will appear from the two advertisements below, they were sold by distributors Hyppolyte Mahy (1815-1877) and Paul Emile Chappuis (1815-1887).

ELLIOTT’s STEREOSCOPIC GROUPS. — Just out, JOAN of ARC, by J. ELLIOTT, photographer of the originals — Wedding, Christening, Pic-Nic, Tea and Dinner Party, Blindman’s Buff, Wedding Breakfast, Going to Court, Morning Call, Bride, Happiest Day of my Life, Five Weeks After Marriage, Golden Age, &c. — Wholesale central depot, HIPPOLYTE MAHY, 73, Newgate-street, London, and 125, rue Montmartre, Paris. Soon will be published, the Disturber of the Peace, by C. E. Goodman.

The Times, 11 November 1857

JUST OUT, STEREOSCOPIC VIEWS : — Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Wight, Alton Towers, Derbyshire, &c. — New Groups : Scenes in India, Crinoline, Joan of Arc, Richard II. And every novelty in Venetian and glass transparents. Wholesale and retail of P. E. CHAPPUIS, sole patentee and maker of the reflecting stereoscope, 69, Fleet-street.

The Times, 18 November 1857

01-Elliott-Joan of Arc taken prisoner-back

Illustration 01 – James Elliott. Back of one of his variants of Joan of Arc taken prisoner with a printed extract from Lord Mahon’s History of Joan of Arc. 1857. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

02-Elliott-Joan of Arc taken prisoner-untinted

Illustration 02 – James Elliott. One of the variants of his Joan of Arc taken prisoner. 1857. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

03-Elliott-Joan of Arc taken prisoner-

Illustration 03 – James Elliott. Another variant, this time hand-tinted, of his Joan of Arc taken prisoner. 1857. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

The next person to have staged episodes in the life of Joan of Arc was French stereo photographer Alphonse Ninet (1821-1875) who, on 9 June 1859, copyrighted two photographs showing the young woman from Donremy first in prison, then tied to the stake at which she was burnt on 30 May 1431. Unlike Elliott’s photographs, these two images, rather unusual if we consider the rest of Ninet’s production, do not appear to have been very successful and are almost impossible to find. They are mostly known through the copies which, by law, the photographer had to bring to the dépôt légal.

04-NINET Alphonse-Jeanne d'Arc en prison

Illustration 04 – Alphonse Ninet. Joan of Arc in prison, waiting for her trial. 1859. Bibliothèque nationale de France.

05-NINET Alphonse-Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher

Illustration 05 – Alphonse Ninet. Joan of Arc at the stake. 1859. Bibliothèque nationale de France.

There is another photograph, a portrait, which was made and sold in the nineteenth century. It bears a small label on the back with the words “Joan of Arc”. It is a fine portrait but I somehow find the presence of earrings enough to stop the suspension of disbelief necessary in such occasions. There is unfortunately no indication as to who the photographer responsible for this portrait may have been.

06-Joan of Arc

Illustration 06 – Unidentified photographer. Close up portrait meant to represent Joan of Arc. 1860s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

After the end of the Franco-Prussian war, the defeat of the French Army and the consequent annexion of the two provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, Joan of Arc became the symbol of a strong nationalist movement which carried on till the beginning of the First World War and expressed itself mostly through the erection of numerous statues of the maiden warrior either as a shepherdess listening to the voices of archangels or in full armour and ready for battle. However, one of the first to express this nationalist feeling of revenge was publisher Jules Alexandre Edouard Marinier (1823-1898) who issued a series of twelve tissue stereo cards telling the story of Joan of Arc, from the time she started hearing her voices at Donremy to her death in Rouen [3]. Marinier had been the publisher of Adolphe Hennetier’s Diableries and Actualités Théâtrales [4] but by the mid-1870s Hennetier’s inspired clay models were costing too much to produce and had been replaced by cutout paper figures which were faster and cheaper to make. I am showing three images out of the twelve to give the reader an idea of the series. One of the tableaux (Number 9) shows Joan of Arc’s capture at Compiègne on 23 May 1430.

07-MarinierJeanne d'Arc-03-

Illustration 07. Jules Marinier. Joan of Arc. Number 3. Chinon Gentil Roi. Mid- to late 1870s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

08-Marinier-Jeanne d'Arc-07

Illustration 08. Jules Marinier. Joan of Arc. Number 7. Je vous donne la noblesse. Mid to late 1870s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

09-Marinier-Jeanne d'Arc-09

Illustration 09. Jules Marinier. Joan of Arc. Number 9. Compiègne. Mid- to late 1870s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

I have mentioned statues of Joan of Arc all over France after the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war. There were statues made of the young Maiden of Orleans before that period, however. One of the oldest ones was in Rouen, at the top of a fountain located not very far from the place at which Joan was burnt at the stake. This monument was erected in 1755 in replacement of a former one which had been built in 1525. Although the statue – the work of Parisian sculptor Paul Ambroise Slodtz (1702-1758) – was destroyed in an allied air raid on 2 June 1944, it was fortunately photographed for the stereoscope on several occasions during the nineteenth century. I must confess the stereo card below is my favourite photograph of said fountain as it was taken sequentially and not only shows the monument in its three dimensions but the passing of time and the things that happened between the two exposures.

10-Fontaine Jeanne d'Arc at Rouen

Illustration 10 – Unidentified photographer. Sequential stereo photograph of the Joan of Arc Fountain at Rouen. The statue and the fountain were destroyed by allied bombs in 1944. Late 1850s. Author’s collection.

I also like the slightly later image below, taken this time with a binocular camera but with a rather long exposure, as well as the photograph published by the Maison de la Bonne Presse in the late 1920s-early 1930s. A lady on the left of the image is wearing a cloche hat which is typical of the period as is the car on the right.

11-Fontaine Jeanne d'arc at Rouen

Illustration 11 – Unidentified photographer. Stereo photograph of the Joan of Arc Fountain at Rouen, taken with a binocular camera. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

12-Fontaine Jeanne d'arc at Rouen-MDLBP

Illustration 12 – Maison de la Bonne Presse. S. 46. 4183. Rouen. Statue Jeanne d’Arc et Hôtel du Bourgtheroulde. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

What appears to be the earliest statue of Joan of Arc made in the nineteenth century was presented at the 1803 Salon. The work of Edme François Etienne Gois (1765-1836), also known as Etienne Gois the younger, the bronze showing the Maiden of Orleans carrying her sword in one hand, her standard in the other and stepping resolutely forward as if to encourage the whole army to follow her was first located on the Place du Martroi where it remained until 1854 when it was replaced by another statue I will mention later. Gois’ sculpture was moved to the Place Dauphiné where it stayed until 1955 when it was moved, again, to its present location, Quai du Fort des Tourelles.

13-Jeanne d'arc by Gois

Illustration 13 – Unidentified photographer. Stereo photograph of Gois’ bronze statue of Joan of Arc in its second location, Place Dauphiné. 1860s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

One of the earliest statues of the warrior saint made in the nineteenth century was commissioned in 1835 for the national museum at Versailles commemorating glorious French figures by King Louis Philippe (1773-1850) from his youngest daughter Princess Marie Christine d’Orléans (1813-1839), a pupil of Ary Sheffer and David d’Angers. The statue, which earned high praise when it was exhibited at the 1837 salon and replicas of which were later made for the city Orléans, Joan’s birthplace at Donrémy and many other towns, show Joan in full armour and in prayer, holding her sword as one would a crucifix. It is a very powerful work of art which was photographed for the stereoscope at the turn of the twentieth century by the Société Industrielle de Photographie (S.I.P.).

14-Jeanne d'arc by Marie d'Orléans-Versailles

Illustration 14 – Société Industrielle de Photographie. 6. Versailles. Statue de Jeanne d’Arc par Marie d’Orléans. Early 1900s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

Also commissioned, but this time for a series about famous women intended to be displayed in the Luxembourg garden in Paris, the statue of “Jeanne d’Arc écoutant ses voix” (Joan of Arc listening to her voices) by François Rude (1784-1855) was exhibited at the 1852 salon. It was photographed for the stereoscope at the Musée du Louvre by the Société Industrielle de Photographie.

15-Jeanne d'arc by Rude-Musée du Louvre

Illustration 15 – Société Industrielle de Photographie. 7. Musée du Louvre.  Jeanne d’Arc par Marie Rudes. Early 1900s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

Denis Foyatier (1793-1863) is the artist responsible for the 4.40 m high equestrian statue of Joan of Arc which replaced Gois’ work in the centre of the Place du Martroi and was inaugurated on 8 May 1855 (the four hundred and twenty-sixth anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Orléans) in the presence of Mr Abbatucci, the Minister of Justice, and of the Bishop of Orléans, Monseigneur Dupanloup, who blessed the statue. The ten reliefs that ornate the granite base and are the work of Gabriel Vital Dubray (1813-1892) were added one year later to the very day. Badly damaged during the Second World War, Foyatier’s statue was restored in 1950 thanks to the generosity of the people of New Orleans.

16-Jeanne d'arc by Denis Foyatier

Illustration 16. Unidentified photographer. Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc by Denis Foyatier. The ten reliefs that decorate the granite base have not been added yet which means this photograph was taken between 8 May 1855 and early May 1856. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

17-Jeanne d'arc by Denis Foyatier

Illustration 17. Unidentified photographer. Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc by Denis Foyatier. The ten reliefs are now in place which means this photograph was taken after 8 May 1856.

Just before the war between France and Prussia broke out, sculptor Henri Michel Antoine Chapu (1833-1891) presented a statue of Joan of Arc listening to her voices at the last Salon of the Second Empire in 1870. His original plaster was turned into a marble statue in 1872 and Chapu’s work not only earned him the Legion of Honour but became, after the defeat, one of the most popular depictions of the Warrior Saint. It was abundantly reproduced in all kinds of materials and formats well into the beginning of the twentieth century. Chapu’s statue is now at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris.

18-Jeanne d'Arc by Henri Chapu

Illustration 18 – Collection Photo Stereo. Statue of Joan of Arc listening to her voice, by Henri Chapu, when it was still at the Musée du Luxembourg. 1900s. Author’s collection.

In 1874 a gilded bronze equestrian statue of Joan of Arc was inaugurated Place des Pyramides in Paris. It was the work of French artist Emmanuel Frémiet (1824-1910) who, following sharp criticisms about the proportions of his sculpture, replaced it by a new version in 1900. Frémiet’s statue was reproduced numerous times and copies of it cannot only be seen at Castres, Compiègne, Lille, Mirecourt, Nancy, Saint-Etienne, etc., but also at Melbourne, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland.

19-Jeanne d'arc by Frémiet-Paris

Illustration 19 – Collection Photo Stereo. Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc by Emmanuel Frémiet, Place des Pyramides, Paris. 1900s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

Commissioned in 1890 at the initiative of the General Council of the Vosges, a marble statue by Marius Jean Antonin Mercié (1845-1916) showing Joan raising the sword of France was unveiled at the 1893 Salon before being erected outside Joan of Arc’s birthplace at Donrémy in 1902.

20-Jeanne d'arc by Mercié-Donrémy

Illustration 20 – Underwood and Underwood. Statue of Joan of Arc raising the Sword of France, by Mercié, outside Joan’s birthplace in Donrémy, Vosges, France. Early 1900s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

In 1889, at the Salon, sculptor Paul Dubois (1829-1905) exhibited a plaster model of an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc which had been commissioned by the National Academy of Rheims and paid for by public subscription. It was not until 14 July 1896, however, that his statue, cast in bronze, was inaugurated outside Rheims Cathedral, where it still stands. Copies of the statue also exist at Paris, Strasbourg and Washington.

21-Jeanne d'arc by Paul Dubois-Reims

Illustration 21 – Underwood and Underwood. Equestrian statue of Joan of Arc by Paul Dubois, outside Rheims Cathedral. Early 1900s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

22-Jeanne d'arc by Paul Dubois-Paris

Illustration 22 – Société Industrielle de Photographie. 52. Paris. Statue de  Jeanne d’Arc. The Statue, one of the several copies of Paul Dubois’s work, stands outside Notre-Dame des Augustins. 1900s. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy.

Many other statues of Joan were made after the Franco-Prussian war and the defeat of France but since by then stereo photography was in the decline,a lot of them were never photographed for the stereoscope. However, the craze for representations of Joan of Arc, far from diminishing, gained momentum in the 1900s as evidenced by these two postcards by different publishers depicting Joan of Arc’s capture at Compiègne on 24 May 1430.

23-Postcards-Jeanne d'Arc capturée à Compiègne

Illustration 23 – (Left) Publisher Saint Just whose logo was the initials A.S with a fleur-de-lys between them. 744. Jeanne d’Arc à Compiègne. “Jehanne est prise !!” 24 mai 1430. (Right) Unidentified publisher whose logo was the initials B. F. with a pansy between them. 474. 24 mai 1430. Jeanne d’Arc est faite prisonnière à Compiègne par les Bourguignons. 1900s. Both postcards from the author’s collection.

Which brings us nicely to 1909. That year was an important one for the admirers of the Maiden of Orleans as four hundred and fifty-three years after she was declared a martyr (1456) Joan was beatified by Pope Pius X – a recognition she entered into Heaven and could intercede on the behalf of those who prayed in her name, as well as the first step towards her becoming a saint – and celebrated all over France.

24-Béatification de Jeanne d'Arc-1909

Illustration 24 – Postcard published in Normandy commemorating the beatification of Joan of Arc on 18 April 1909 and showing the different stages of her life from her birth at Donrémy to her death in Rouen and including her beatification in Rome. Author’s collection.

Below is a postcard showing one of the numerous clay sculptures made by the very talented, very prolific but also very undervalued artist Domenico Mastroianni (1876-1962), featuring Joan of Arc after her beatification. Mastroianni, like Diableries and Theatricals modellers Louis Alfred Habert ( ) and Pierre Adolphe Hennetier (1808-1888) before him, created stunning tableaux in clay which were photographed before being destroyed or recycled. Some of his works – The Creation of the World, The Life of Jesus Christ and The Life of Napoleon – were made for the stereoscope. It is a real pity this image of Joan of Arc was not as it is easy to see there would have been a lot of depth in it, as in most of Mastroianni’s creations. The depth of his clay tableaux was always further enhanced by some very elaborate lighting, as is the case here. These masterpieces are only remembered now thanks to the hundreds of postcards that were made from them and published mostly by Armand Noyer (A.N.). Mastroianni’s models are instantly recognisable and certainly deserve to be rediscovered but since they have never been physically shown in galleries or museums or fetched high prices in auctions their author’s talent never gained the recognition it should have.

25-Mastroianni-Jeanne d'Arc-Sent 1909

Illustration 25 – Domenico Mastroianni, published by Armand Noyer. 99. Jeanne d’Arc la Bienheureuse. Author’s collection.

Joan’s beatification on 18 April 1909 and the ceremonies that were organised in her honour prompted polo player [5] and mayor of Compiègne from 1904 to 1935 Mortimer Henri Robert Fournier-Sarlovèze (1869-1937) to create a festival commemorating Joan’s capture in 1430. An organising committee was set up, consisting mostly of members of the French nobility, bishops, generals, admirals, politicians, academicians and members of the Institute, and chaired by historian and librarian Xavier de Bonnault d’Houët (1847-1923), Baron de Bonnault and president of the historical society. The committee decided that the 1909 Joan of Arc Festival would take place on 23 and 30 May and would include a cavalcade recreating the visit to Compiègne of Joan and of the newly crowned king Charles VII. It was also agreed that the part of Joan would be held by Miss Adrienne de Bailliencourt-Courcol [6], the twenty-four-year old daughter of banker and member of the organising committee Rodolphe Paul Vincent de Bailliencourt-Courcol (1859-1920). The part of King Charles VII was played by egyptologist Viscount Raymond Ode Chapelle de Jumilhac (1887-1980). His “subjects” were drawn from the remains of the French artistocracy, most of whom descendants of families that already existed at the time of Joan of Arc and who – that was convenient – could all ride a horse.

26-Postcard-Pinchon-Le Conétable

Illustration 26 – Joseph Pinchon, published by E. Decelle. Le Conétable, one of the postcards he made from the costumes he designed for the 1911 Joan of Arc Festival. Author’s collection.

The design of the costumes and of the banners as well as the organisation of the cavalcade were put in the capable hands of Joseph Pinchon (1871-1953) who was between 1908 and 1914 the costume designer of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. Émile-Joseph Porphyre Pinchon was a well-known and awarded painter before he turned to book illustration and design. He became famous in 1905 when he gave life to the character of Bécassine, a rather naïve young Breton girl originally created by Jacqueline Rivière, who is considered to be one of the first female comic book heroines. The adventures of Bécassine, which Pinchon illustrated for forty-five years, were first published in the periodical La Semaine de Suzette before being collected in albums. Pinchon used his talent as an illustrator to make postcards of the costumes he had designed for the five successive Joan of Arc Festivals he helped organise between 1909 and 1935.

The first Joan of Arc Festival held at Compiègne in the twentieth century – there had been one in 1865 and another one in 1880 on the occasion of the unveiling of a statue of the Maiden Warrior – was “covered” by photography as few events had been before and hundreds of postcards – postcards were big in the first decade of the twentieth century – were published by Ernest Louis Désiré Le Deley, E. Decelle and Neurdein frères that show the various events that were repeated on 23 and 30 May 1909.

In the morning of the 23rd, after a great mass which started at eight, the Bishop of Beauvais, Jean Marie Célestin Douais (1848-1915) handed over to Mr, Fournier-Sarlovèze , the mayor of Compiègne, a perfect replica of the standard carried by Joan of Arc which he had previously blessed and which was later borne by Miss Adrienne de Bailliencour-Courcol after she had donned her armour. At one thirty in the afternoon the public festivities began with a cavalcade through the streets of Compiègne which involved six hundred extras and was watched by over eighty thousand people.

27-Adrienne de Bailliencourt Courcol as Joan of Arc-Decelle

Illustration 27. Postcard published by E. Decelle, from Compiègne. Miss Adrienne de Bailliencourt-Courcol in full armour and bearing the replica of Joan of Arc’s standard. Author’s collection.

28-Postcard-Fêtes en l'honneur de Jeanne d'Arc-1909-ND-12

Illustration 28. Postcard published by Neurdein frères. Number 12. Compiègne – Fêtes en l’honneur de Jeanne d’Arc (1909), showing Adrienne/Joan riding through the streets of Compiègne. One of the many photos showing the cavalcade. Author’s collection.

29-Fêtes de Compiègne-1909-Neurdein frères

Illustration 29. Postcard published by Neurdein frères showing Miss Adrienne de Bailliencourt-Courcol and her two squires. Author’s collection.


Illustration 30. Adrienne de Bailliencourt-Courcol made the cover of the popular illustrated weekly, L’Illustration, in the issue that was published on 29 May 1909.

At two a concert was given during which a poem by M. Alban de Polhès was read to music by Saint-Saëns, Berlioz, Lenepveu, William Marie, Tiersot and Paul de Saunières. This was followed by the Cour d’Amour (Court of Love) with singers and actors from famous parisian theatres, then by some medieval dances performed by two ballerinas from the Paris Opera. The festivites ended around five with a tournament and a grand finale which is described in the programme as the Triumph or Apotheosis, when all the knights and extras paraded around the ground. Just when things were drawing to their conclusion the skies opened and everybody got properly drenched.

31-Programme des Fêtes de Jeanne d'Arc-1909

Illustration 31 – Copy of the original programme of the 1909 Joan of Arc Festival at Compiègne. The cover (left) was drawn by illustrator, caricaturist and author of futuristic novels Albert Robida (1848-1926) who was born at Compiègne. Author’s collection.

32-Fêtes de Compiègne-1909-ELD

Illustration 32 – Postcard published by Ernest Désiré Le Deley showing Jeanne, King Charles VII and his retinue during the Cour d’Amour concert. Author’s collection.

I could show dozens of postcards of the events but since this is an article about Joan of Arc in the Stereoscope now is the right time to introduce some of the nine stereos that got me started on this piece. As mentioned above, all these images are on glass, in the Vérascope Richard format (45x107mm). They were all published by photographer, businessman and instrument maker Jules Richard (1848-1930) but we unfortunately do not know the name of the author of these images, who could have been an employee of Richard’s, an amateur, or even a local artist who sold his negatives to the publisher. To make the stereos visible in 3-D with a conventional lorgnette-type viewer, I will only be showing one image in its original format. The other ones have been digitally “mounted” to make them look like traditional stereo cards.

33-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74110-Slide

Illustration 33 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. 74110. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy. Former John Jones’s collection. This is the slide as it looks originally but made slightly bigger.

34-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74110

Illustration 34 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. 74110. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy. Former John Jones’s collection. This is the slide once it has been placed in a digital “mount”.

35-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74124

Illustration 35 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74124. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy. Former John Jones’s collection.

36-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74154

Illustration 36 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74154. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy. Former John Jones’s collection.

37-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74157

Illustration 37 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74157. King Charles VII, his knights and pages.  Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy. Former John Jones’s collection.

38-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74165

Illustration 38 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74165. Miss Adrienne de Billiancourt-Courcol as Joan of Arc in full armour and riding a white steed. Note the squire on the left bearing her standard. Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy. Former John Jones’s collection.

When I was about half-way writing this article – I can only write at the weekend, or very early in the morning before my actual working day starts – I chanced upon a series of twenty-eight Vérascope Richard glass slides of the 1911 Joan of Arc Festival for sale on eBay. I had no sooner paid for them than the seller contacted me to say he had sixteen more similar slides without any captions but which, he thought, were a little earlier. He sent me smartphone photos of them and it did not take me long to recognise them as stereos from the 1909 Festival. There was no doubt about it as in one of the images one could see Miss Adrienne de Billancourt-Corcoul impersonating Joan. Needless to say that I bought those extra images as I had been looking everywhere, in vain, for other copies of the same series. Having now at my disposal twenty-five stereos of the 1909 festivities instead of the original nine it was more opportune to have a closer look at the numbering to try and determine how many of those stereo glass slides were actually made. You may have noticed that, captioned or not, all the photographs bear a number which is in the 74000 range. The lowest number I could find was 74027 and the highest 74171, which means that there exist, or at least existed, no fewer than 144 photos in the series. It may seem a lot of images but I am confident there must be more, maybe as many as 200. Below are some of the more recently acquired glass stereos from the 1909 Joan of Arc Festival at Compiègne, in numerical order.

39-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74027

Illustration 39 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74027. Joan of Arc is greeted by the market stall holders. On the far right the mayor of Compiègne is walking towards the group with outstretched arms. Author’s collection.

40-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74041

Illustration 40 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74041. Author’s collection.

41-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74070

Illustration 41 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74070. Author’s collection.

42-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74143

Illustration 42 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74143. “La Cour d’Amour”. Joan of Arc, King Charles VII, the governor of Compiègne and all the other big wigs are all sitting in the stand in the background. Author’s collection.

43-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1909-74171

Illustration 43 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1909. Number 74171. Author’s collection.

Along with the sixteen slides from the 1909 Festival came the twenty-eight from the festivities that were organised two years later, by the same committee and the same team. There was a difference though with the 1909 Festival. In 1911 there was no young lady to play the part of Joan of Arc. Instead, the emphasis was put on the events that were organised to celebrate the rehabilitation of Joan in 1456, thirty-five years after her death at the stake, a cavalcade featuring eight to nine hundred extras, and the re-enactment of a tournament that took place at Compiègne in 1238 on the occasion of the wedding of Robert of Artois, brother to king Louis IX, better known as Saint Louis or Louis the Saint. The 1911 “knights” were all descendants of the original 338 noblemen that took part in the 1238 joust. Their names having been found in the archives of the town, the well-connected mayor of Compiègne, Mr. Fournier-Sarvolèze, had sent invitations all over Europe to track representants of those families and convince them to don an armour and pick up a jousting lance.

You will notice that the numbers on the photos below are all in the 96000 range. The lowest number I have is 96604 and the highest 96827 which means that there were at least 223 stereos taken that day ! Again, I am confident there were more. Wouldn’t it be great to find them all ? It would show, once again, what a wonderful time machine stereoscopy can be.

44-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1911-96604

Illustration 44 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1911. Number 96604. Author’s collection.

45-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1911-96609

Illustration 45 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1911. Number 96609. Author’s collection.

46-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1911-96748

Illustration 46 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1911. Number 96748. Author’s collection.

47-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1911-96773

Illustration 47 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1911. Number 96773. Author’s collection.

48-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1911-96797

Illustration 48 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1911. Number 96797. Author’s collection.

49-FETES DE COMPIEGNE-1911-96827

Illustration 49 – Vérascope Richard. Joan of Arc Festival, 1911. Number 96827. Author’s collection.

I have not been able, yet, to find any stereos of the 1913 Joan of Arc Festival but there are quite a few postcards available, although not so many as for the previous ones. That year the part of Joan was played by the daughter of a Compiègne judge, the twenty-five year old Alice Dumars. I must say I love the anachronism of the image showing Miss Dumars as Joan of Arc being brought to wherever the cavalcade started from in an early automobile.

50-Fêtes de Compiègne 1913-Alice Dumars

Illustration 50 – Postcard published by E. Decelle (E. D.), Compiègne. Miss Alice Dumars in full armour arriving by car at the spot where the cavalcade started from. 1913. Author’s collection

To preside over the festivities that took place on the 8th and 15th of June, the mayor of Compiègne had invited novelist, journalist and politician Maurice Barrès (1862-1923) who can be seen below – another anachronism – smiling to the very serious-looking and full armoured Alice Dumars.

51-Alice Dumas as Joan of Arc with Maurice Barrès

Illustration 51 – Postcard published by E. Decelle (E. D.), Compiègne. Alice Dumars (left), Robert Fournier-Sarlovèze, mayor of Compiègne (centre) and Maurice Barrès (right). 1913. Author’s collection.

I am not sure whether impersonating the Maiden of Orléans left some lasting impression on Miss Dumars but just over one year after the 1913 festivities, when the war broke out, she became a nurse and tended the sick and the wounded in a Compiègne hospital. She showed so much devotion, valour and bravery in the pursuit of her job and during the bombing and occupation of Compiègne that, in September 1915, along with six other nurses from the area, Miss Dumars received from the hands of General Dubois the “croix de guerre with palme” (cross of war with bronze palm). Alice Dumars married a captain and teacher at the prestigious École militaire de Saint-Cyr on 24 March 1920 and became Mrs Joseph Alfred Roger. She passed away, aged ninety-three, in 1981, a widow for the past 50 years of her life.

The Joan of Arc Festival took place twice between the two world wars, first in 1930 with Miss Nelly Wilhélem as Joan of Arc then in 1935, the part of Joan being held by Miss Janine Fantauzzi. The pageant was not resumed until 1956 and took place again in 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963. There was another gap until 1977 but since then the Festival has taken place every year, over one weekend, with the exception of 2020 and 2021, due to the covid pandemic. Miss Clarisse Montel was the young woman who donned the armour of Joan in 2022 and we do not know yet who will have that honour in 2023. My hope is there will be a huge event for the 600th anniversary of Joan’s capture, in 2030, and that there will be someone present there with a binocular camera or a stereo rig to capture the cavalcade, the medieval market, and take stereo portraits of the young woman impersonating Joan.

This article is drawing to an end and since it all started with photos of the 1909 Festival I would like to end it with and image from that same year. It is not a stereo, unfortunately, but I think it sums up the spirit of the festival and the ambitions of the mayor of Compiègne, Mr. Founier-Sarlovèze, who created the festival and gave him such a wide outreach. It is also a marvellous example of anachronism at its best and I cannot help imagining what the feelings of actual fifteenth-century knights would have been had they been magically transported to the year 1909 and into a car. [7] My warmest thanks to my eldest brother Patrice for getting that postcard for me. [8] Maybe there is a stereoscopic equivalent somewhere. I will definitely keep looking for one !

52-CPA ND-Fêtes de Jeanne d'Arc-Une Arrivée dans les coulisses

Illustration 52  – Postcard published by the Neurdein Brothers (ND). 11. Arrivée dans les Coulisses. Automobile amenant des Chevaliers, accompagnés par M. R. Fournier-Sarlovèze, Maire de Compiègne (An arrival backstage. Automobile bringing some of the Knights, accompanied by Mr. R. Fournier-Sarlovèze, the mayor of Compiègne). The Mayor of Compiègne is the one sitting at the very back of the car.

Denis Pellerin

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[1] There were other Joan of Arc Festivals at Compiègne in 1911 and 1913 then there was a gap because of the first World War. The festival was not resumed until 1930 when a huge event was organised to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Joan of Arc’s capture. There was another one in 1935 and then the Second World War put an end to the festivities one more time. The festival has been going on every year since the 1970s but was cancelled two years in a row in 2020 and 2021 on account of the covid pandemic. It resumed in May 2022.

[2] The English History Series by James Elliott includes such titles as Death of Thomas a’Beckett, Crowning of Henry the Seventh of Bosworth Field, The Last Moments of Prince Edward, Capture of the Infant Earl of Richmond, etc.

[3] Here is the list of the titles in the series by Marinier:

01. Donrémy. Les voix. (Donrémy. The voices)

02. Jeanne désarme un soudard. (Joan unarms a drunken soldier)

03. Chinon. Gentil roi. (Chinon. Sweet King)

04. Je vous conduirai à Reims. (I will lead you to Rheims)

05. Orléans. en avant !! (Orléans. Forward March)

06. À Reims. (The Coronation at Rheims)

07. Je vous donne la noblesse. (I make you a noble woman)

08. La prière. (The prayer)

09. Compiègne.

10. Le tribunal. (The trial)

11. La prison. (The prison)

12. Le bûcher. (At the stake)

[4] See Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell, by Brian May, Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming, London Stereoscopic Company, 2019, and Theatricals: a Night at the Opera, by Denis Pellerin, to be released in 2023 by the London Stereoscopic Company.

[5] He took part in the 1900 Olympic Games and was part of the team that won the bronze medal.

[6] In the press of the time as well as on many postcards featuring her surname is often wrongly spelt Baillencourt, without the second “i”. Adrienne Marie Thérèse de Bailliencourt-Courcol was born in Douai, Nord, on 22 March 1885, and descended directly from a soldier in the armies of King Charles VII who, admiring his valiance on the battlefield, honoured him with the surname of Courcol (literally Short Neck) to distinguish him from his relatives and also because he was apparently a short-statured, stocky sort of fellow. His descendants piously added the nickname to their surname and became known as Bailliencourt-Courcol. Adrienne was twenty-four when she impersonated Joan of Arc. Three years later, on 18 March 1912, she married Alfred Ferdinand Édouard Creuzé de Lesser (1883-1967) at Compiègne. They had at least five children. Adrienne died at the age of ninety-three on 9 September 1978.

[7] If you are familiar with Jean-Marie Poiré’s Les Visiteurs (1993) or its American remake, Just Visiting (2001), you will understand what I mean. If you are not, I suggest you watch both.

[8] I found this card on Delcampe but the seller would only accept to be paid by a French cheque from a French bank and to send the image to an address in France !! Some people do not seem to realise we live in a global economy or that there is a whole world outside the boundaries of their own country. I am well aware it has become more difficult to send things to the United Kingdom on account of that stupid Brexit but the attitude of the seller really made me feel like an outcast. I blame the Tories for this. Fortunately, my eldest brother bought the card for me and had it sent to his address in France from which he sent it to me in Britain. When there is a will … !

2 thoughts on “Joan of Arc in the Stereoscope

  1. Dear Rebecca,

    Thanks a lot for this great post. What else could you expect from Denis? He is a great historian and writer. Furthermore I like his dual view, literally, on the subject.

    My season’s greetings are attached in French. I hope you will not mind practicing your French.

    Last, I need your advice : where should I post my congratulations to Sir Brian?

    Bien cordialement,



    Liked by 1 person

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