1831 (Charleston, South Carolina)
1870 (Brighton, England)
New York/South Carolina
Copyright by Owner
Often Known For
tropical-seasonal landscape painting
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Hudson River School Painters
Painted in Latin America
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|A landscape painter, Louis Remy Mignot was among the Hudson River
School style of painters and did numerous tropical landscapes of Panama
and Ecuador as well as scenes of upper New York state and some of the
Southern states. He was short lived, dying at age 39.|
born in 1831 in Charleston, South Carolina. His father Remy Mignot was a French Catholic immigrant who owned a confectionary shop in Charleston His boyhood, during
which he demonstrated a precocious artistic talent, seems to have been
spent in his grandfather's home, near Charleston.
In 1848 he
left for Holland and studied for four years with Andreas Schelfhout at
The Hague. He also traveled through Europe before he returned to the
United States to settle in New York, where he received the praise and
support of numerous critics, patrons, and fellow artists.
summer of 1857, Mignot accompanied painter Frederic Edwin Church
(1826-1900) on a four-month expedition to Ecuador, a turning point in
Mignot's career. There he found scenery that provided a major subject
of his subsequent work. The two artists journeyed from the coastal rain
forests through the Andean highlands and saw impressive ranges of
snow-capped volcanoes. After returning to New York in 1858, Mignot
earned much critical praise for his South American landscapes.
Most of his pictures are not a literal transcription of
a specific scene, but, instead, are imaginative composites of various
views and motifs, derived from his sketches while traveling.
an artist, Mignot was always somewhat out of step with those around
him. He was a Catholic in a predominantly Protestant homeland, a
Southerner transplanted in the North, and an American living abroad. He
also kept himself slightly outside the mainstream of popular taste, and
was something of a chameleon who moved easily in and out of various
cultures, from his birthplace in South Carolina, to art school in the
Netherlands, then to New York City, and later, back to Europe. He
seemed often to redefine himself in an effort to fit in and win the
approval of the public, although his talent was well recognized by
peers and critics alike.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861,
with anti-Confederate feeling prevailing in the Northeast, Mignot held
a sale of his paintings and on June 26, 1862 departed aboard the Great
Eastern for England. Mignot settled in London, where he remained for
the rest of his life, and his successful career continued. His work was
exhibited at the Royal Academy, the 1867 Paris Exposition, and
elsewhere. Trips in 1868 and 1869 to Switzerland resulted in a number
of Alpine scenes.
Mignot became a casualty of the
Franco-Prussian War in France in 1870. During a trip to Paris during
the siege, he contracted smallpox and died at the age of
thirty-nine, shortly after returning to his home in Brighton, England.
An important exhibition of his collected work, organized by his widow,
was held in London and Brighton in 1876.
Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art
Katherine E. Manthorne and John W. Coffey, Louis Remy Mignot: A Southern Painter Abroad (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996). The book accompanied a major retrospectiove exhibition of Mignot's paintings, organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Note from Oscar Struycken:|
Being a descendant of Louis Rémy Mignot's half-sister Louise Constance I can give some information about his background.
father was indeed a confectioner in South Carolina. Beside that he was
also the owner of a coffee-house and a plantation. Louis' father was
called Remy Mignot and was born in Granville in Normandy in France on
June 6th 1801. He died August 15th 1848 in Charlestown, SC.
Their religion was Catholic and not Huguenot, as often recorded.
|Biography from North Carolina Museum of Art:|
|Louis Rémy Mignot: A Short Biography|
Landscape painter and the only Southern-born member of the Hudson River School, Louis Rémy Mignot was born in Charleston, South Carolina on February 3, 1831. His father, Rémy Mignot, was a French Catholic immigrant who owned a fashionable confectionary shop.
At his father’s death in 1848, Mignot sailed to the Netherlands where he studied at The Hague with Andreas Schelfhout, the most prominent Dutch landscape painter of his generation. Like Schelfhout, Mignot initially specialized in winter scenes for which he was first noticed when he returned to the United States and settled in New York (A Winter View from Newburgh, New York, 1856, Vassar College). In 1857 he joined Frederic E. Church on Church’s second expedition to Central and South America. The sketches he made in the tropical rain forests of coastal Ecuador and Andean highlands inspired many of his finest landscapes, including Landscape in Ecuador (1859, North Carolina Museum of Art) and Morning in the Andes, 1863, Detroit Institute of Arts).
In addition to South American views, Mignot painted classic Hudson River School subjects, such as Sources of the Susquehanna (1857, National Academy of Design) and Sunset on White Mountains, 1861, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco). Aside from a visit to paint Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, Mignot never painted in the South.
On occasion Mignot collaborated with other artists in large historical compositions, notably the ambitious Washington and Lafayette at Mount Vernon, 1784 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1859), for which Mignot provided the setting for Thomas Rossiter’s figures. Mignot was elected to the National Academy of Design as an associate in 1858, and as a full academician in 1859. However, his prospects of a brilliant career were frustrated by the outbreak of the Civil War. A Southern sympathizer, Mignot and his family sailed for Europe in the summer of 1862, but not before the artist made a last minute sketching trip to Niagara Falls.
Mignot settled in London and began exhibiting at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. He painted with Whistler along the Channel coast and made sketching trips to the Alps. He continued painting tropical views, often repeating compositions. As one would expect, Mignot’s expatriate paintings express less and less the sensibility of the Hudson River School and increasingly the influence of British and Continental artists. Mignot was increasingly drawn to Paris and a number of his paintings from the late 1860s suggest an acquaintance with the emerging impressionists (Bal de Nuit, Paris (1867, private collection). In 1870, two of the artist’s landscapes were accepted in the Paris Salon. Mignot had also just finished his most ambitious landscape, an expansive Niagara (ca.1867-1870, Brooklyn Museum of Art), a painting competitive with Frederic Church’s great picture, but in its light and freer handling more responsive to the new French painting. Tragically, the artist’s success was again cut short. In Paris at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Mignot and his family fled the advance of the German armies. In desperate circumstances, the artist contracted smallpox and died on September 22, 1870, shortly after arriving in Brighton, England. He was 39 years old.
In 1876 in London his widow organized an exhibition and sale of Mignot’s paintings and sketches—his last exhibition in 120 years. Having left New York just at the ascent of his career and having died before he could reestablish himself in Europe, Mignot quickly fell into the obscurity of a footnote. His first and so far only retrospective exhibition was organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art in 1996. The accompanying book, The Landscape paintings of Louis Rémy Mignot: A Southern Painter Abroad was written by Katherine E. Manthorne with John W. Coffey (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996). The book includes biographical and interpretive essays as well as an illustrated checklist of 102 paintings and detailed chronology. It remains the definitive text on this artist.
John W. Coffey
North Carolina Museum of Art
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