The heroic, life-size bronze of Joan of Arc at 93rd Street and Riverside Park was created a century ago by a group of prominent city residents who wanted to commemorate the Maid of Orleans’ 500th birthday.
And incredibly, it was the first statue in the city that honored a real, nonfictional woman (as opposed to the Statue of Liberty or Mother Goose).
But this monument to a Medieval martyr is distinguished and remarkable in other ways as well.
Sculptor Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington sought to show not a warrior but a spiritual girl whose mission to defeat the British was inspired by the voices of saints.
“Well, the whole idea was that I remember reading before she went into battle she had acquired a new sword,” Huntington later explained.
“And when she went into battle, she unconsciously raised it to heaven to ask the blessing of the Lord on it before she went into battle.”
To invoke Medieval France, architect John Van Pelt made a granite base that contains actual stones from the cathedral in Rheims, where King Charles (who supported Joan’s fight before abandoning her) was crowned.
“On December 6, 1915, the sculpture was unveiled in an elaborate ceremony, which included a military band and French Ambassador Jean J. Jusserand,” states nycgovparks.org.
[Second photo: nycparksgov.com]