Joan of Arc kneels beside a battlefield, preparing to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. The painter has chosen a tight frame, a palette of clear colors, and a play of vertical lines that focus the attention on this solemn scene. An iconic figure of the Hundred Years' War, Joan was born in Domrémy (Lorraine) in about 1412, to a family peasant farmers of comfortable means. Declaring that she had heard supernatural voices ordering her to deliver France, in 1429, she succeeded in persuading the Dauphin Charles VII to send an army to Orleans, which had been besieged by the English.
After liberating the city, she had Charles VII crowned king in Reims. She was captured by the Burgundians, allies of the English, and taken to Rouen where she was judged a heretic and burned alive in 1431.