Joan of Arc Saved France

Title Joan of Arc Saved France
Creator Haskell Coffin
Date 1918
Format 20 x 30 in
Description World War I was a conflict that incorporated women like never before, and Haskell Coffin’s poster alludes to this growing involvement by appropriating the iconic figure Joan of Arc to persuade women to purchase War Savings Stamps. Haskell Coffin was a prolific American artist known for lifelike portraits with little to no text. Coffin’s selection and depiction of the famous French martyr reveals a blending of gender roles taking place during the time period. Unlike some representations of women in war propaganda as helpless damsels, Joan of Arc is seen as an active, self-reliant warrior dressed in shining armor and bravely raising a sword for battle. These more masculine associations are paired with traditional feminine features, such as red lips, rosy cheeks, and smooth skin. The similarities shared between this poster and other posters by Coffin for the Red Cross are so strong that Coffin may have used the same model for inspiration. Joan of Arc is positioned in front of a vibrant blue backdrop with a white center framing her face and imparting a saintly aura. Her beautiful and saintly visage is designed to please heterosexual men and provide women with an inspirational figure to emulate by pushing against the assumption that women are too weak to influence the outcome of war. While the poster affirms that women can and should get involved in the war, notice how Coffin asks audiences to emulate Joan of Arc by purchasing stamps, instead of enlisting as soldiers, a clear indication that women’s involvement in the war was carefully regulated.
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