Thomas Cole Historic Site Opens Mignot Exhibit


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Louis Rémy MignotThe Thomas Cole National Historic Site has opened a new exhibition: Worlds Between: Landscapes of Louis Rémy Mignot. Curated by Katherine E. Manthorne, this is the first major solo show of Louis Rémy Mignot (1831-1870) in over two decades. The exhibition will offer an intimate look at the work of this young, Charleston-born artist who painted in the style of the Hudson River School – and whose tragic life story is as captivating as his landscape paintings.


In this exhibition the Thomas Cole National Historic Site offers a rare chance to see a full range of Mignot’s work. The catalogue produced for the exhibit includes full-color reproductions of the paintings and an essay by Dr. Manthorne. Guest Curator Katherine Manthorne brings her expertise on traveler artists to the exhibition and accompanying catalog, which offers a fresh look at Mignot as a painter whose global journeying fed his unique artistic creativity. 

Specifically, at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site one may view Mignot’s early Dutch landscapes, subtly nuanced snow scenes, coloristic Tropical landscapes, and painterly European pictures. To celebrate the legacy he inherited from Thomas Cole, the exhibition highlights Mignot’s distinctive views of upstate New York and the Hudson River Valley. In many ways, the gallery at the Cole Site offers the perfect venue for this artist living between worlds. 

 Louis Rémy Mignot (1831-1870) lived between many worlds: he was a Southern artist living in New York City in the years leading up to the Civil War; a French-Catholic, he worked within a predominantly Anglo-Protestant community of artists; he traveled from the American South to South America, and painted both subtle snow scenes and fiery tropical pictures. He belonged to the inner circles of polar opposites – Frederic Church and James Whistler; and in his all too short career, his style moved from Hudson River School realism toward Aestheticism. 

His art and life embodied the mobility that characterized the 19th c. Atlantic world, as he moved from one busy, cosmopolitan port to another. Mignot grew up in Charleston, S.C., where the slave-holding Low Country planter elite frequented his father’s coffee house and confectionary on King Street. At age 17 he traveled to The Hague in the Netherlands for artistic training, and then moved to New York City. From there he visited tourist sites from New York’s Hudson Valley to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. In 1857 he explored South America, painting the steamy lowlands and lagoons that rivaled the Andean panoramas of his traveling companion Frederic Church. 

With the outbreak of Civil War, his southern identity and world experiences made it difficult for him either to remain in the North or to return home to Carolina, and he took up his travels again. Mignot never reached his intended destination of India, but got as far as London. Ever restless, he spent summers in the Swiss Alps and headed for Paris in 1870, where he was trapped during the Commune and contracted small pox. He died at age 39, leaving behind one of the most diverse and sophisticated bodies of work of any American landscapist. 

This is the 9th annual presentation of 19th century landscape paintings at the Thomas Cole site. The exhibition program seeks to foster discussion and understanding of the influence of Thomas Cole on American culture through a generation of artists known as the Hudson River School. Worlds Between – Landscapes of Louis Rémy Mignot will be on view until October 28, 2012. 

DIRECTIONS: The Thomas Cole Historic Site is located in the scenic Hudson River Valley, at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York. Located near the western entrance to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, with easy access from the New York State Thruway exit 21 or Amtrak train service in Hudson, detailed directions and more information can be found at www.thomascole.org or call 518-943-7465. 

HOURS: Starting May 3rd, the Main House and Old Studio are open for tours from 10 to 4pm, with the last tour at 3pm, Thursday through Sunday, through October 28th. Admission to the grounds is free and open dawn until dusk.

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