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Friday, 23 April 2010

Marchons! It's Back!

'Golden girl' Jeanne D'Arc returns
to Philadelphia Museum's front yard

Above, Jeanne, Gail, Michael Photos: Writers Clearinghhouse/Chips Channon

By Richard Carreño
Junto Staff Writer Bio
To the financial generosity of members of the Philadelphia chapter of the French Heritage Society, Gail Harrity of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was waxing praise and thanks. And, when just then informed by the preservation group of the particulars, Harrity spontaneously also extended her thanks to the Society's Paris branch.

Ms Harrity, who as the PMA's president and chief operating officer knows a thing or two about fund-raising, was in the museum's satellite Perelman Building Thursday (April 22), celebrating the return of the newly-restored statue of John of Arc to the museum's 'front yard' on Kelly Drive. And, as well, honoring the fund-raising efforts by the Philly and Paris branches of the French Heritage Society in helping to accomplish that restoration. (About $3,000 came from Paris).

Much of le tout Philadelphie and some other wannabe francophiles had also assembled for cakes and champagne in the Perelman's austere Gallery Cafe, awaiting the formal ceremony announcing the re-installation of Maid of Orlean statue at 25th Street and the Drive. Included in the pre-redication ceremonies were Julia Ward and Valerie de Conde, co-chairs of the Society's Philly branch; Margo Berg, the city's public art director; and French consul Michael Scullin, who, with his right trouser leg still pegged, had just pedaled in.

Outside, it was raining lightly. Jeanne D'Arc, covered in a new coat of gold leaf, glistened like something so precious that it really ought to be in Fort Knox.

PMA trustee John H. McFadden and architect David S. Traub, in a gaggle of about two-dozen (many of whom drawn from the monster-sized apartment buildings lining the Parkway) had also come to praise. And marvel at the gleaming, 15-foot tall monument, crafted by French sculptor Emmanuel Fremiet (1824-1910) and donated to the city in 1890. (A smaller, model is housed in the PMA, and other full-sized castings are located in Paris and in New Orleans).

Joan's conservation was costly, about $65,000. (The French Heritage Society kicked in about $15,000, with the city providing the remainder).

Yet, the amount of 23.5-karat gold leaf used in covering the bronze Joan and her mount was just measured in ounces.

By the time Mayor Michael Nutter showed up, it had stopped raining. And the raindrops shimmered light on the Golden Girl.