Joan of Arc

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1879 (unfinished)
Date: 1863, 1882
Rhyme: a4 b3 c4 b3
Meter: iambic
Genre: ballad (fragment)
Model: for the pictures of 1863-1864: Aggie Manetti (probably), though WMR identified her as a German woman named Mrs. Beyer; for the late 1882 picture: Mrs. Jane Burden Morris


◦ Marillier, DGR: An Illustrated Memorial, 125

◦ WMR, DGR Designer and Writer, 40

◦ Sharp, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 189-190

◦ Surtees, A Catalogue Raisonné vol. 1, 91-92.


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the 1911 text.

Scholarly Commentary


This ballad was never completed. William Michael Rossetti included its three surviving stanzas in his 1911 collected edition. Dating from 1879-1880, the fragment shows that DGR considered writing a long narrative on this subject. He abandoned it, however, and devoted himself instead to the English narratives of “The White Ship” and “The King's Tragedy”. His comment to Shields in a letter of 6 March 1881 is revealing: “As for Joan the Maid, I don't see my way with her. No critical situation is intimate enough, and the burning is too horrible” (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 81. 102 ).

Textual History: Composition

Two holograph manuscript fragments survive: a three stanza fragment in a disbound notebook page in the Duke University Library dating from 1879-1880, and the first stanza in one of the small notebooks in the British Library.

Production History

The theme attracted DGR early and repeatedly. In 1863 he executed an oil painting that had been commissioned by J. Anderson Rose in 1862. He worked on this picture between January and March 1863 and was apparently quite pleased with the result, writing to Anderson in February about “what a stunner the Joan of Arc is really becoming now — 30 times better than when you saw her” (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 63. 24 ). In 1864 he made a watercolor variant on commission for Ellen Heaton, and shortly before he sent it to her, in October 1864, he wrote that “I myself (entre nous) consider it superior in expression & colour to the oil picture” of the previous year (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 64. 135 ). DGR has been alone in this view.

The model for the two early pictures was Aggie Manetti. The idea of creating a double work only came later when he returned to the subject and began writing the abandoned ballad. He kept on with this late oil picture, however, and completed it just before he died in 1882.

Printing History

First published by WMR in in his 1911 collected edition from the text he found in a DGR notebook.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 9-1879.s162.raw.xml