LOUIS RÉMY MIGNOT (1831–1870)
View of the Fishkill Mountains from Highland Grove, about 1855
Oil on canvas, 25 x 49 in.
Signed (at lower left): Mignot
RECORDED: Katherine E. Manthorne and John W. Coffey, Louis Rémy Mignot: A Southern Painter Abroad, exhib. cat. (Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Museum of Art, 1996), pp. 49, 55–56 // Katherine E. Manthorne, Worlds Between: Landscapes of Louis Rémy Mignot, exhib. cat. (Catskill, New York: Thomas Cole National Historical Site, 2012), p. 9
EXHIBITED: National Academy of Design, New York, 1856, Annual, no. 180, as “Fishkill Mountains: from ‘Highland Grove’”
EX COLL: [Mark LaSalle Fine Art, Albany, New York, 1996–97]; [Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York, 1997]; to private collection, 1997 until the present
View of the Fishkill Mountains from Highland Grove was painted in the wake of Mignot’s move to New York when, aware of the demand for images of native scenery among local collectors, he began exploring the pictorial offerings of the Hudson River Valley. The painting features a panoramic view of the picturesque countryside in Highland Grove, a valley in the rural town of Fishkill in Dutchess County, New York, with sweeping views of the Fishkill Mountains (today, preserved as part of Hudson Highlands State Park) to the south. Indeed, in contrast to Hudson River School painters such as Church, who explored the concept of the sublime in relation to the untamed wilderness, Mignot was drawn to more serene settings, particularly the civilized landscape where man and nature co-existed in harmony. This aspect of his work is apparent in the present example, in which the artist juxtaposes a line of distant mountains with verdant meadows and pastures, alluding to the presence of man by including two figures, a woodpile, and some sheep in the lower right side of the composition, and on the far left, a pair of cottages.
In View of the Fishkill Mountains from Highland Grove, Mignot combines the descriptive realism of the Hudson River School with a sense of poetry that reflects his earlier exposure to European Romanticism. Consistent with his academic training, he depicts the fore- and middlegrounds with firm, carefully controlled brushwork, effectively capturing the myriad textures in the landscape while adhering to s smoother application of pigment in the sky. Mignot’s growing penchant for expressive color is manifested here in his rich palette, the greens, pinks, yellows and earthy hues of the landscape elements forming a contrast with the soft pastel tones used to denote the delicate veil of atmosphere that envelopes the faraway peaks, contributing to the mood of tranquility that pervades the image. Mignot was obviously pleased with View of the Fishkill Mountains from Highland Grove, for he elected to début it at the 31st annual exhibition of the National Academy of Design, which opened on March 12, 1856. The first American subject Mignot exhibited at the academy, it was aptly described as a “fine picture” that was “well-painted”––praise that the young artist from the South, eager to make his mark in the highly competitive art world of New York, would surely have appreciated (“Exhibition of the National Academy. First Article,” The Crayon 3 [April 1856], p. 118).