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Hignard, Pierre

HIGNARD, PIERRE (1610-1695), called to distinguish him from his brother Nicholas Le Remain, French painter, was born at Troyes in 1610, and came of a family of artists. In 1630 he left the studio of Simon Vouet for Italy, where he spent twenty-two years, and made a reputation which brought him a summons to Paris. Successful with his portrait of the king, and in favour with the court, Mignard pitted himself against Le Brun, declined to enter the Academy of which he was the head, and made himself the centre of opposition to its authority. The history of this struggle is most important, because it was identical, as long as it lasted, with that between the old gilds of France and the new body which Colbert, for political reasons, was determined to support. Shut out, in spite of the deserved success of his decorations of the cupola of Val de Grace (1664), from any great share in those public works the control of which was the attribute of the new Academy, Mignard was chiefly active in portraiture. Turenne, Moliere, Bossuet, Maintenon (Louvre), La Valliere, Sevigne, Montespan, Descartes (Castle Howard), all the beauties and celebrities of his day, sat to him. His readiness and skill, his happy instinct for grace of arrangement, atoned for want of originality and real power. With the death of Le Brun (1690) the situation changed; Mignard deserted his allies, and succeeded to all the posts held by his opponent. These late honours he did not long enjoy; in 1695 he died whilst about to commence work on the cupola of the Invalides. His best compositions have been engraved by Audran, Edelinck, Masson, Poilly and others.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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