Régis François Gignoux, Lake George at Sunset, 1862
Régis François Gignoux (1816-1882) was a French landscape painter who spent much of his life in the United States. Born in Lyon, he was educated at the École des Beaux-Arts under Paul Delaroche. Gignoux moved to the United States in 1840 and opened a studio in Brooklyn, and later in Manhattan. He achieved significant success here, becoming a member of the National Academy of Design, a founding member of the Tenth Street Studio, and the first president of the Brooklyn Art Academy. Gignoux painted many landscapes of the Northeast (although his work occasionally extended to other regions) and was a member of the Hudson River School, specializing in snow scenes. He is perhaps most famous for his multiple views of Niagara Falls. Gignoux returned to France in 1870 and remained in Paris until his death. His work now hangs in many major collections throughout the country. This rendition of Lake George is a beautiful example of Gignoux's skill and sensitivity. Trained in traditional academic landscape painting, his work exhibits many of these traits, and unsurprisingly tends more toward that tradition than other Hudson River School artists. However, he also has the great love of the landscape that so pervades the Hudson River School. Gignoux combined the academicism of French landscape with the emotional engagement of American landscape. This painting offers an idyllic view of the lake, each element portrayed to show its greatest beauty. The lake shows the perfect reflection of the mountain, while a small boat crosses its waters. The stand of trees juts out into the water, creating interesting shapes and another reflection. The trees themselves are perfectly rendered to show the dense but delicate foliage. The sun is perfectly placed to preside over the scene, offering beautiful light and illuminating the clouds, but remaining subtle somewhat concealed behind a mountain. Gignoux's brushwork is somewhat looser than one might expect, but this reveals his loving hand and adds to the immediacy of the painting.