Mignard, Peter

, an historical and portrait painter, was born at Troyes, in Champagne, in 1610. He was the disciple of Vouet, but quitted his school at an early period of his life, and went to Rome, anxious to see and study the works of Raphael, Michael Angelo, and the Caracci. He there lived with Du Fresnoy, and they studied together the noble works of art which that city presented to them; they also travelled together to Florence and Venice, that they might leave no source of improvement unsought which the extraordinary talents of their great predecessors had prepared and left for their study and imitation. Mignard’s residence at Rome, which he prolonged for twenty- two years, and the style he acquired of composition and drawing by the imitation of the Roman masters, together, obtained for him the appeHation of the Roman; but to judge candidly, one would imagine that the former was the principal cause of that denomination; for his style of design savours too much of the flutter of the French school, instead of the chaste simplicity of Raphael and the best of the Romans. He enjoyed, however, a full share of favour and fortune during his life. He painted portraits of the popes Urban VIII. and Alexander VII. together with those of many of the nobility of Rome.

Louis XIV. hearing of his fame and abilities, sent for him to Paris, and is said to have sat to him for his portrait ten times. Almost all the illustrious nobles of the French court followed the example of their sovereign, and were painted by Mignard. His style of execution in these portraits is wrought up with all the false taste and pompous parade which distinguished that vicious period of the French nation; in his pictures every thing seems in motion; even. when the scene is laid in a close room, the draperies are flying about as in a high wind. With these and other defective points in his character as an artist, Mignard must be allowed to be the best portrait-painter of the French school. The king ennobled him; and, after Le Brun’s death, appointed him his principal painter, and the director of the manufactories of Seve and the Gobelins. He lived to the age of eighty-five, dying in 1695. He had an elder brother, whose name was Nicholas, a skilful painter, but who never rose to equality with him. 1

1

Argenville, vol. IV. Perrault Les Hommes Illastres, —Strutt’s Dict. Waipole’s Anecdotes, for his nephew, Rees’s Cyclopædia.

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