The Daily Telegraph
May 13, 1998, Wednesday
Experts examine 'first picture' of Joan of Arc
By Julian Nundy in Paris
ART experts in France are trying to establish if a 15th century painting
of a teenager with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes is the first picture of Joan of Arc. The wall painting was discovered a year ago in a chapel at her birthplace in Domremy, eastern France, where she is said to have prayed. If authenticated, it will be the only image of Joan painted while she was alive. The fresco shows a teenage girl with blue eyes, full cheeks, blonde hair and peasant headgear kneeling beside a saint, Thiebaut de Provins. The local bishop was reported to have said in church last week that the picture, discovered by workers under a layer of lime spread on the walls during a 16th century plague epidemic, was that of Joan of Arc. Mgr Guillaume, the bishop of Saint Die in Lorraine, broke the news to a congregation of 800 who had gone to Domremy to celebrate her feast-day. The fresco is on the wall of the Notre-Dame de Bermont chapel, 500 yards from her house in the Vosges mountains. Earlier discoveries of Joan of Arc memorabilia, such as the presentation of a suit of armour said to be hers, turned out to be false. But experts commissioned by the French Culture Ministry have examined the Domremy fresco since the claims were first made a year ago. They said the fresco dated from the early 15th century --- St Joan was burned to death in 1431. The local newspaper, La Liberte de l'Est, said some figures had been added at around the time of her death. At her trial in Rouen in 1430,
evidence was read to show she was "of good life and morals". At her
rehabilitation 26 years later, 12 Domremy residents said she used to pray in the chapel.