American/French (1816-1882) 
oil on
canvas, signed "R. Gignoux" and dated "1855" lower right. 
39 1/2 x 58 1/4 inches












Born in Lyon, France, Régis François Gignoux was educated in art at the Academy of St. Pierre in Lyon and at the Royal School of Fine Arts in Paris. While in Paris, he also studied painting independently with both Delaroche and Vernet. In about 1840, Gignoux traveled with his brother to New York, where he pursued and married an American woman he had met in France.  Inspired by his new marriage and by the beauty of the scenery, Gignoux settled in Brooklyn and became active in the New York art world. He specialized in winter landscapes, and for a brief time in 1843, instructed George Inness.


In 1861, Gignoux was elected the second president of the Brooklyn Art Association, a position he held until 1869. According to Henry T. Tuckerman in his Book of the Artists (1867), his work showed the most "faithful delineations of the characteristics of American scenery produced by a foreign pencil." Tuckerman went on to say that:


[Gignoux] was known among us by his winter landscapes, executed with great truth to nature and beauty of effect: it has been said that some of them are so truthful that they would almost allure a snow-bunting from the sky. Our lovers of art, comparatively few as they were twenty-five years ago, considered one of Gignoux's winter scenes essential to their limited collections.[1]


Winter directly relates to the winter scenes of 17th-century Dutch painting, both stylistically and in subject matter. It is painted in a crisp, detailed manner, and although the location is unidentified, elements such as the horse-drawn sleigh, church, and cabins are used by the artist in other compositions, indicating that the present example may be a composite scene.  Related works of the same subject are in the collection of the Museum of Fine Art, Boston (Winter Scene in New Jersey, 1847) and the New Britain Museum, New Britain, Connecticut (Midwinter Moonlight, circa 1869).



[1] Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists, New York: G. P. Putnam & Son, 1867, p. 508.

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