New Hampshire (White Mountain Landscape)
Oil on canvas
Purchase made possible by a gift of Olivia H. and John O. Parker, Class of 1958, and by the Julia L. Whittier Fund; P.961.1
Trained in Lyons and Paris, Régis François Gignoux worked in America from 1840 to 1870. Like the Hudson River school painters already established here, he traveled deep into the wilderness of the Adirondacks and the White Mountains in search of subjects. Although suggestions have been made as to the exact location depicted in New Hampshire, this majestic landscape is more likely a romanticized composite view inspired by Gignoux’s visits to the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, liberally embellished for dramatic impact. Its sweeping vista, deep recession into space, and mastery of atmospheric effects reveal Gignoux’s admiration for his more influential contemporaries Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, both of whom were fellow tenants at the Tenth Street Studio building in New York City. The exaggerated height and ruggedness of Gignoux’s White Mountains may reflect the artist’s desire to imbue this venerable wilderness area with the theatrical drama associated with such exotic locales as the Rockies and the Andes, which had been more recently popularized by Bierstadt and Church, respectively. The widespread appeal of such optimistic, panoramic canvases suggests not only a vogue for grandeur but also an abiding faith in Manifest Destiny—the nineteenth-century belief that America had a God-sanctioned mission to expand its territories and influence throughout the continent. In Gignoux’s work such nationalistic sentiments become tangible in the American eagle that soars through the valley toward the distant horizon.
Last Updated: 5/13/09