Régis François Gignoux (1816–1882)

A French-born landscape artist best-known for his snow scenes.

By Chelsea DeLay

I. Biography
II. Chronology
III. Collections
IV. Exhibitions
V. Memberships
VI. Suggested Resources

I. Biography

Régis François Gignoux was born in Lyons, France, in 1816. At the age of nineteen, Gignoux enrolled as a student at the École des Beaux-Arts where he trained under the renowned history painter Paul-Hipployte Delaroche; under his instruction, Gignoux excelled at painting romantic landscape scenes. Gignoux immigrated to the United States in 1840 and settled in Brooklyn, New York. He developed a deep appreciation for the American landscape, and traveled to historic landmarks throughout the United States, which resulted in iconic views of Niagara Falls, the Catskill Mountains, Mount Washington, and Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.

Gignoux was actively involved with prominent members of the Hudson River School—he briefly taught an eighteen-year-old George Inness in 1843, opened a studio at the well-known Tenth Street Studio Building in New York City, and accompanied Frederic Edwin Church and John Frederick Kensett on sketching trips during the 1850s. In 1851, Gignoux was elected to full membership of the National Academy of Design, and he later became the first president of the Brooklyn Art Association. As an American landscape artist, Gignoux distinguished himself from his Hudson River School contemporaries by painting winter scenes with a strikingly accurate sense of truth and intimacy. These winter landscapes became highly coveted during the late nineteenth century and attracted the attention of notable collectors and patrons, including Charles Gould, Baron Rothschild, and the Earl of Ellesmere.

During his career, Gignoux’s work was exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Association, National Academy of Design, Paris Salon, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He returned to France in 1870, where he lived until his death in 1882. His work is included in the permanent collections of several important institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and United States Senate, Washington, D.C.

II. Chronology

1816 Born in Lyons, France
1835 Enrolls at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, studies under renowned French painter Paul-Hipployte Delaroche
1840 Immigrates to the United States
1843 Briefly trains George Inness in New York
1844 Establishes a studio in New York City; exhibits Interior of Mammoth Cave, Kentucky at the Boston Athenæum, where it receives critical acclaim
1850s Accompanies Frederic Edwin Church and John Frederick Kensett on several sketching trips
1851 Elected to full membership of the National Academy of Design
1860s Paints in the White Mountains at the artist colony of North Conway, New Hampshire
1861 Involved in organizing the Brooklyn Art Association, which was formally established on January 5; Elected as the first president of the artist organization
1870 Returns to France
1882 Dies in Paris on August 6

III. Collections

Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York
Brooklyn Museum, New York
The Columbus Museum, Georgia
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut
New-York Historical Society, New York
Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
United States Senate, Washington, D.C
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

IV. Exhibitions

1838 Paris Salon, France
1842–68 National Academy of Design, New York, New York
1844 Boston Athenæum, Massachusetts
1847, 1852, 1856, 1859, 1861–2 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1855, 1858, 1870 Paris Salon, France
1860–79, 1884 Brooklyn Art Association, New York

V. Memberships

Brooklyn Art Association, 1861
Century Association
National Academy of Design, 1851

VI. Suggested Resources

Born, Wolfgang. American Landscape Painting. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948.
Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564–1975: 400 Years of Artists in America. Vol. 2, G–O. Madison, Connecticut: Sound View Press, 1999.
Sears, Clara Endicott. Highlights among the Hudson River Artists. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1947.

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Régis François Gignoux