For today’s artwork I’m sharing Louis Remy Mignot’s Lagoon of the Guayaquil. Mignot was a New York based painter who worked in a style inspired by the Hudson River School. What immediately strikes me about this piece is the single coconut palm reaching toward the sky and the reflection of the distant clouds in the lagoon water. I really enjoy his delicate rendering of the horizon and the evocative lighting it provides throughout the rest of the scene. Lagoon of the Guayaquil gives me the impression that Mignot intended to convey something deeply personal about this particular whereabout, which he would’ve witnessed during his 1857 visit to Ecuador with fellow painter Frederic Edwin Church. Sadly, this was Mignot’s only trip to the country, as he met an unfortunate death at the young age of 39.
This quiet, contemplative piece stands in sharp contrast to the large, grandiose landscape works of South American locales as depicted by many 19th century American landscape painters, the most famous of which is undoubtedly Frederic Edwin Church’s Heart of the Andes, which I’ve included behind the cut.
Currently located at the MET, Church’s idealized landscape, measuring in at an approximate 68 1⁄8 in × 119 1⁄4 in, was so popular upon its first exhibition at the New York Studio Building in 1859 that upwards of 12,000 people paid a .25 admission fee to view the work and even brought opera glasses to examine its many elements, including the scientifically precise botanical specimens which Church had assembled from throughout the region. Although not a photographically accurate depiction of the scene, Heart of the Andes was a magnificent sight to behold and perfectly conveyed the notion that these tropical South American sites might symbolize The New World’s own Garden of Eden. Wow. I know.
Mignot also attempted awe-inspiring works similar to Church's famous painting, such as his Lagoon of the Guayaquil River, which I've also included behind the cut. It's a great painting, and once again I admire Mignot's use of color and rendering of light, but whereas Church had a gift for capturing the extravagant, I think Mignot's talents were fully realized in his intimate lagoon scenes, which in my opinion hold just as much emotional resonance as Church's larger, ambitious works.
Louis Mignot, Lagoon of the Guayaquil (detail)
Fredrick Edwin Church, Heart of the Andes
Louis Mignot, Lagoon of the Guayaquil River