text: seven walking tours through historic Philadelphia

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

We will start on the Kelly Drive side of the river, on the east side of the Philadelphia Museum of art. Here is the first of many sculptures we'll encounter on our tour: Emmanuel Fremiet's dazzling, gilded bronze Joan of Arc. Bought by the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1890, the monument was at first placed at the east end of the Girard Avenue Bridge. Unappreciated at that location, it was moved to its present one in 1959, after being given its gilt coat in the basement of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

A haunting coincidence adds to the story of the statue. We know that in 1431, the 19-year-old Joan was burned at stake after being captured by the English during a battle in the Hundred Years War. Sculptor Fremiet chose a 15-year-old model, Valerie Laneau, for his sculpture of Joan. When Laneau was 77, she too was burned to death — while trying to light her evening lamp. Now walk behind the art museum.

Fairmount Park