Joan of Arc by Jan Toorop

Jan Toorop [Dutch, 1858–1928] :: Jeanne d’Arc – Joan of Arc, 1898. Graphite and colored pencils on tan wove board. | Art Institute of Chicago, “Drawings in Dialogue: Old Master Through Modern“

Signed recto, lower right, pen and black ink: “J. K. TOOROP”; dated, lower left, in pen and black ink: “1898”; inscribed recto, lower center, in graphite: “IEANNE D’ARC”

Imbued with the sinuous linear style of Toorop’s most celebrated works, this small drawing merges medieval subject matter with the graphic language of Symbolism. Cleverly situated within the voids of a capital letter E, Toorop’s title figure recalls the conventions of medieval manuscript illumination. Indeed, like many of Toorop’s drawings, this work was likely intended for inclusion in a book. The swirling parallel lines in the saint’s hair and the intensity of her downcast posture assert the sympathetic interpretation Toorop offered of this warrior saint, whose canonization was not finalized until 1920.

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