Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc Saved France

Huskell Coffin

Full text reads, “Joan of Arc Saved France, Save your country, Buy war savings stamps”


A young woman identified as Joan of Arc wears medieval full body armour, with her helmet pushed up to reveal a feminine face. Her right arm brandishes a sword and is extended toward the viewer, the blade extending beyond the upper border of the poster.


This poster is important for the obvious reason of it depicting a woman not as a nurse, cook or a mother, but rather as a war hero. Apart from her face and the very subtle highlights over her breast plate, there is no obvious indication of femininity. The majority of propaganda posters relied heavily on the presence of females in traditional roles to elicit sympathy and/or donations. This poster motivates the viewer to buy war savings stamps in order to secure victory for their country like Joan of Arc did for France centuries earlier.


Huskell Coffin was a successful illustrator and painter whose works appeared in thirty Saturday Evening Post illustrations. The Joan of Arc painting was completed whilst he was living in New York City and remains one of his most famous works to this day. When one considers the suffragette movement occurred in 1917, it is no wonder that one of the most famous women in history was used as a rallying image for contributions to the war effort.


Literature


Martin, Rick and Martin, Charlotte, Vintage Illustration: Discovering America's Calendar Artists, 1900-1960, Collectors Press (1997) 36-41.