Régis François Gignoux

Régis François Gignoux (Born 1816 in Lyon, died on 6 August 1882 in Paris) was a French painter who was active in the United States from 1840 to 1870. Gignoux is best known for his meticulous renderings of Northeast American landscapes, and was the only member of the Hudson River School to specialize in snow scenes.

He was born in Lyon, France, showing early interest in art from an early age. He studied in Freiburg, Switzerland and later at the Académie St. Pierre in Lyon. Studied in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts under the French historical painter Hippolyte Delaroche, who inspired Gignoux to turn his talents toward landscape painting.

In 1840 Gignoux left France to the United States, the reason for his departure was to love a young American who later became his wife. Fascinated by the beauty of American nature, he decided to stay in the US permanently.

Gignoux arrived in the United States from France in 1840 and eventually opened a studio in Brooklyn, New York. He was a member of the National Academy of Design, and was the first president of the Brooklyn Art Academy. George Inness, John LaFarge (1835–1910), and Charles Dormon Robinson were his students.

By 1844, Gignoux had opened a studio in New York City and became one of the first artists to join the famous Tenth Street Studio, where other members included Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and John Frederick Kensett.

He returned to France in 1870 and died in Paris in 1882.

Gignoux is highly popular in his day, Gignoux painted views of Niagara Falls, New England, and Virginia, and became especially well known for his snow scene, such as this work “Winter Landscape.” He returned to France in 1870 and lived there until his death.

The artist quickly became a leading painter of the Hudson River School, collaborating among others. With Frederic Edwin Church and John Frederick Kensett, exhibited at the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Paris Salon. He specialized in landscape painting, most often fixing winter landscapes. Its light-filled work is rich in Hudson River School’s typical luminous effects.

Régis François Gignoux was a member of the National Academy of Design and the first president of the Brooklyn Art Association. He had several students, the most famous being George Inness (1825-1894) and John La Farge (1835-1910). In 1870 the artist returned to France, died in Paris in 1882.

Numerous works by the painter are mainly in American galleries. At the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Brooklyn Museum and the New York Historical Society. An image of Niagara Falls in Winter from 1848 is located in the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

From the War of 1812 onward nitre (lime nitrate) used in making saltpeter, one of the essential elements for gunpowder, was mined and prepared from bat guano in the Rotunda. “A dramatic, newly restored 1843 painting of the interior of Mammoth Cave by Marie-Francois-Regis Gignoux has been restored as part of the conservation program for the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture at the New-York Historical Society opening in November [2000]. …In his dramatically lit interior view of Mammoth Cave, Gignoux looks from deep in the cave across the so-called “Rotunda” toward the entrance, which is illuminated by an almost mystical light from the outside …” Currently, Mammoth Cave is touring as part of the The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision organized by the New-York Historical Society.