Resurrecting Joan of Arc

Finding St Eligius in the Petrus Christus painting, A Goldsmith in his Shop, isn’t difficult; discovering Joan of Arc is more demanding – but she’s there!

There are two areas of the Petrus painting with iconography relating to “The Maid of Orleans”: The counter displaying the goldsmith’s weights alongside the gold coins, and the gold gown worn by the woman to the left of the picture.

Joan of Arc was born in 1412 in Domrémy, Bar, France. A national heroine of France, at age 18 she led the French army to victory over the English forces at Orléans. Captured a year later, Joan was burned at the stake as a heretic by the English and their French collaborators.

More at Resurrecting St Eligius


A man of many guises

He’s been described as perhaps an accountant, a lawyer, mariner, musician, merchant, nobleman, poet, saint, sculptor, and even a Syrian soldier!

So who is the mystery man tucked behind the parapet in Van Eyck’s Léal Souvenir, whose identity has puzzled art historians for decades, if not centuries?

Wikipedia’s comprehensive page on the Léal Souvenir examines some of the suggestions put forward over the years as well other aspects of the painting aquired by London’s National Gallery in 1857.


Revealing the Léal Souvenir

This portrait of a man by Jan van Eyck is dated October 10, 1432. Art historians are uncertain as to who the sitter is. On the painting to the name Timotheus, but opinion is divided on what or who it refers to. This is what the National Gallery in London has to say about its painting:

The words ‘Léal Souvenir’ (Loyal Remembrance) are painted on the parapet as though carved into the stone. They may mean that the portrait is an accurate likeness or, conceivably, that it was a posthumous, commemorative likeness. The sitter has not been identified; he is not grandly dressed and is unlikely to be an aristocrat or a cleric.

The inscription in Greek letters has been read as ‘Tymotheus’ (Timothy), but it seems to be a transliteration into Greek script of two words in Latin, ‘tum otheos’ meaning ‘Then God’. What this signifies is not clear.

The reverse of the picture is painted in imitation of marble. The translation of the inscription along the bottom of the parapet reads ‘Done in the year of Our Lord 1432 on the 10th day of October by Jan van Eyck’.

Coming soon… details of the painting’s iconography and who the subject is!


Portrait of a Man (‘Léal Souvenir’) by Jan van Eyck
National Gallery, London

in the pipeline

To date, I’ve published seven presentations on my website, – and there are several more in the pipeline.

Following on from my discovery of the link from Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait back to two illustrations in the Hungarian Pray Codex, and so the Shroud of Turin, I shall continue with the focus on revealing Jan’s fascination for the Shroud in some of his other paintings.

Portrait of of Man (Léal Souvenir), by Jan van Eyck
The Nativity of John the Baptist (Turin-Milan Hours), attributed to Jan van Eyck
Prayer on the Seashore (Turin-Milan Hours), attrubuted to Jan van Eyck
The Battle of Crécy (Froissart’s Chronicles) attributed to Loyset Liédet
The Battle of Poitier (Froissart’s Chronicles) attributed to Loyset Liédet
Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban, by Jan van Eyck
The Last Supper, by Dieric Bouts
The Montforte Altarpiece, by Hugo van der Goes
Parnassus, by Andrea Mantegna
Madonna della Vittoria, by Andrea Mantegna
Lamentation of Christ, by Andrea Mantegna
Samson and Delilah, by Andrea Mantegna


Published so far:
The Arnolfini Portrait, by Jan van Eyck
The Seven Sacraments, by Rogier van der Weyden
The Magdalen Reading, by Rogier van der Weyden
The Columba Altarpiece, by Rogier van der Weyden
The Water of Bethlehem, possibly by Rogier van der Weyden
A Goldsmith in his Shop, by Petrus Christus
The Albi Strabo, attributed to Giovanni Bellini