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J. William Fosdick
Adoration of St. Joan of Arc
1896
fire-etched wood relief
three panels, each: 109 3/4 x 49 1/2 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of William T. Evans



Joan of Arc, the “Maid of Orléans,” was a popular subject in America and France as an example of feminine courage. The French legend at the bottom reads, “my last wishes and thoughts are for my God, my country, and my king,” words she proclaimed just before her execution. The flags at the top bear the lilies of royal France and symbols of the city of Orléans, where in 1429 she led the French army in victory over English invaders. This remarkable artwork was made by burning and etching the wood with red-hot tools, a technique called pyrography.