One of the best ways to see how a historical figure is understood is to find out who is spoken of in the same breath. Foresti's Concerning Many Famous and Select Women was inspired by Boccaccio's De claris mulieribus, but included many 15th century women. The woodcut is not a portrait as such, but must have been chosen because her name, Darc, was interpreted to mean "of the bow." The image is used for other women within the book as well. Like most of the illustrations for martial or powerful women, the picture draws attention to the breasts; the women who are famous for their religious achievements are much less likely to be depicted with this type of ornament, unless they were young virgin martyrs.

As in Foresti's work, the "splendid" women chosen for Sears's These Splendid Women, are distinguished by their historical prominence and their effect upon history. Although the various biographies are written by different authors, the women (including Cleopatra, Madame de Pompadour, and Florence Nightingale) are routinely praised for their beauty - whenever the claim is not actually denied by reliable sources. And several of the heroines share the achievement named in Thomas de Quincey's biography of Joan: "I acknowledge that you can do one thing as well as the best of us men …you can die grandly, and as goddesses would die, were goddesses mortal."

 

 

The heroes of Les Grandes Figures Nationales et Les Heros du Peuple are a mixed group: Joan, two educators of the deaf, a general, the agriculturalist who introduced the potato to France, an Hugenot artist who developed distinctive types of pottery, a financier, etc. Their common characteristics are dedication to king or country, work that helped others, and (in many cases) arrest on either religious or political grounds.

 

Marie Edmée Pau's Histoire de Notre Petite Soeur Jeanne d'Arc is made up of religious musings on the early life of Joan of Arc, designed for a juvenile audience, and illustrated by an extraordinary series of etchings. Many of the pictures appropriate familiar imagery to suggest parallels between Joan and Christ (at the Nativity, on the Virgin's knee, with John the Baptist, among the doctors in the Temple, with St. Christopher), Tobias with the angel, and St. Francis.