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reviews Our regular review section features some of the best new books, films, and sound recordings in southern studies. From time to time, you'll also find reviews of important new museum exhibitions and public history sites, and retrospectives on classic works that continue to shape our understanding of the region and its people. Our aim is to explore the rich diversity of southern life and the methods and approaches of those who study it. Please write us to share your suggestions, or to add your name to our reviewer file. EastmanJohnson, Portrait of Louis R. Mignot (ca. 18J1—J4). Oil on canvas, 203U X 14? in., from the collection ofBaron M. L. van Reigersberg Versluys, Ij>ndon. The Landscapes of Louis Rómy Mignot A Southern Painter Abroad By Katherine E. Manthorne, with John W Coffey Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996 244 pp. Paper, $29.95 Louis Rómy Mignot A Southern Painter Abroad An Exhibition at the North Carolina Museum ofArt in Raleigh, October 20, 1996— January 5, 1997; National Academy of Design in New York, February 1 3—May 11,1997. Reviewed by Peter H. Wood, professor ofhistory at Duke University. He is the coauthor, with Karen Dalton, of Winslow Homer's Images ofBlacks: the Civil War and Reconstruction Years. Who is Louis Rémy Mignot? In 1983, when the Virginia Museum in Richmond launched the comprehensive exhibition "Painting in the South, 1 564-1980," this Charleston-born artist was not represented. The exhibition included Florida sunsets by Vermonter William Morris Hunt and by the Pennsylvania luminist Martin Johnson Heade, who took up residence at St. Augustine in the 1 880s, but Mignot was not mentioned in the catalog. Nor did his name appear in TheArt ofthe Old South, an impressive overview published in diat same year by art historian Jessie Poesch. But southern painting, like southern literature, is never a static subject; wellknown names gradually slip from favor and new figures are constantiy being recovered and reassessed by diligent researchers. Professor Poesch, for example, is 68 currendy bringing to light the career of David Hunter Strother (i 816-1888), a talented artist and illustrator from the Shenandoah region. And now Katherine Manthorne, a scholar of American art who has written about painters in the tropics , and John Coffey, a curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art (ncma), have rediscovered the brief and tantalizing career of Louis Mignot, whose name and works virtually disappeared after his widow arranged a successful retrospective exhibition in London in 1 876. With support from the Luce Foundation, Manthorne and Coffey set out to learn about the man and his work. They have located more than one hundred pictures by the gifted artist, along with the names of many others yet unfound, and they have compiled an extensive and richly illustrated book (complete with a personal chronology and a survey ofhis known works) to reintroduce this contemporary , and close acquaintance, ofFrederic Church, EastmanJohnson, andJames McNeill Whisder. The volume, which includes a valuable chapter on Mignot's Charleston "roots and influences" by David Moltke-Hansen, serves as the catalog for the first retrospective of the artist's work in 1 20 years. The exhibition opened at the ncma late in 1996 and then traveled to the National Academy of Design early in 1 997. Louis Mignot was born into Charleston's small and close-knit community of French Catholic immigrants early in 1 8 3 1 . His father, raised on the coast ofNormandy , had moved to Charleston in the 1 820s, opened a successful confectionery, and owned considerable real estate and a dozen slaves by the time ofhis death in 1 847. Louis's childhood is sketchy, but his mother died before he was three, and he was apparendy raised in the household of her wealthy father. Meanwhile, Mr. Mignot remarried in 1834 and did not include young Louis in his estate. A year after his death (he had opposed his son's artistic inclinations), seventeen-year-old Louis departed for the Netherlands to study painting with the Dutch landscape artist Andreas Schelfhout. "After acquiring from this master the rudiments of technical knowledge," an English contemporary recalled, "he threw himselfwith all the ardour...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 68-74
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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