La Vie de Jeanne d’Arc

Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel

His finest work is La Vie de Jeanne d’Arc (Paris, 1896), for which he provided both text and illustrations. Considered to be the first outstanding juvenile in the modern movement. Illustrated with forty-eight original color lithographs by the author, the text and illustrations being printed directly from the stones. The pageantry of this famous story is played out in pastel colors across the oblong pages to create a stunning panoramic effect.

Boutet De Monvel - La Vie De Jeanne D’Arc

Boutet de Monvel’s delicate line drawings highlighted with flat color washes are exquisite. Gerald Gottlieb writes that this work “marked a high point in the illustration of French children’s books at the close of the nineteenth century, and it influenced enormously the picture-book for children in the twentieth century. Boutet de Monvel’s illustrations in, for which he also wrote the text, are considered his finest and most important work.” Jeanne’s visions link the book to the symbolist tradition.

In 1895,he published an illustrated children’s history of Jeanne d’Arc which has been regarded as his masterpiece. Working epic scenes in a muted palette that he described as “It’s not color, really, it is the impression, the suggestion of color,” he conveyed an emotional spirituality despite his disappointment with reproduction technology. The book gained esteem although he was neither a writer nor a historian. It was republished in 1973 and 1980.

Children’s literature critic Selma G. Lanes describes his Jeanne d’Arc illustrations: Boutet de Monvel’s full-page illustrations have a nobility and grandeur akin to the great church frescoes of the Renaissance. Their pleasingly flat rendering combined with a sophisticated use of design elements…owe a debt to the Japanese prints so popular in the artist’s day.
Boutet’s Jeanne d’Arc work soon became known to the English speaking world through translation. In 1899 he traveled to the United States to exhibit and received a commission from a wealthy American to create a series of large scale panels based upon his Jeanne d’Arc illustrations

Another six panels originally planned for the Jeanne d’Arc chapel near her birthplace Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France became part of the collection at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The Jeanne d’Arc series, commissioned by William Clark and given to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1926. The popular panels hung at the Corcoran until it closed in 2014, when they moved to the National Gallery of Art, where they now hang in a West Building gallery alongside sculptures by Boutet de Monvel’s contemporary Edgar Degas.

Boutet De Monvel - La Vie De Jeanne D’Arc
Boutet De Monvel - La Vie De Jeanne D’Arc
Boutet De Monvel - La Vie De Jeanne D’Arc

Preparatory drawings for the album published in 1896.
Three Scenes of Jeanne d’Arc’s life. The king and his court, Jeanne’s trial, the army leaving blois; pencil, pen and black ink.

Sold for 2,250 EUR at Sothebys auctions April 2016.


Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel French painter and illustrator (1851-1913)

One of the most influential French illustrators of children’s books. Around 1909 using his trademark of clean lines and pale colours he became who one of the most celebrated portraitists of his time.

Painter, Aquqfortist, Designer and illustrator.. (1851-1913) Born in Orléans.
From 1869 he took a course at the De Rudder school of art and in the following year was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he worked in the atelier of Alexandre Cabanel. He took part in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71) and afterwards studied under Jules Lefebvre, Gustave Boulanger and Carolus-Duran.

From 1873 he exhibited at the Salon and in 1885 he created a stir with his Apotheosis of a Scoundrel (or Apotheosis of Robert Macaire; Orléans, Mus. B.-A.), a work imbued with a violently anti-republican spirit. As well as painting, he illustrated children’s literature, beginning with the successful La France en zig-zags (1881).

Other collections followed: Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfants and Chansons de France pour les petits français (both Paris, 1883), two books of songs for which he provided illustrations, and Anatole France’s Nos enfants: Scènes de la ville et des champs (Paris, 1887).

In these works, Boutet de Monvel’s delicate and refined draughtsmanship enhanced the authors’ delight in the world of children. He managed to retain the individuality of his subjects, using a modern style that was influenced by Japanese aesthetics.

His fame spread quickly: numerous exhibitions were organized in Europe as well as in the USA, and many foreign editions of his works were published.

Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel