Pierre Mignard
French painter



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Pierre Mignard
French painter
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When people think “Baroque,” they may think of yawn-inducing museum audio tours about gaudy furniture and dead white guys.

Seventeenth-century painter Pierre Mignard certainly meets the latter criteria…but while his style was out of Better Homes and Gardens: Versailles Edition, his spirit was all Banksy. He’s known for giving the finger to the establishment, and for his messy, thirty-year feud with fellow artist Charles Le Brun (a relative by marriage of Marie Antoinette’s court painter Louise Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun).

Mignard was born in France in 1612, but spent his youth in Italy with an international colony of artists.  While there he painted Catholic religious art, acquired the nickname “Mignard the Roman” and married an architect’s daughter named Anna Avolora.  Anna was said to be a creature of “perfect beauty,” and Mignard used her as his model for paintings of the Virgin Mary (Madonna-whore complex much?).

Shortly after the marriage, Louis XIV learned of his reputation and called him back to France.  Mignard became lifelong frenemies with George Le Brun when he rejected Le Brun’s invitation to join the Royal Academy, of which he was Director.  Mignard dedicated the rest of his career to undermining Le Brun and the Academy.  In consequence, he wasn’t invited to participate in great public works such as church frescos.

Mignard enjoyed his self-imposed exile from the cultural powers that be, preferring the company of rich hotties to stodgy academics. He became a baroque Annie Leibovitz, painting lavish glamour portraits of the reigning beauties and celebrities of the day including various Royal mistresses, the philosopher Descartes and the playwright Moliere.  He and Moliere developed a close personal friendship.

When Le Brun conveniently died in 1690, Mignard dropped his bad-boy rebel act and snatched up his dead nemesis’ post as Director of the Royal Academy.  He who laughs last laughs loudest, but Mignard didn’t laugh very long.  He died just five years later, proving that Karma was just as much of a bitch in the 1600s.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Pierre Mignard

Pierre Mignard or Pierre Mignard I (17 November 1612 – 30 May 1695), called "Mignard le Romain" to distinguish him from his brother Nicolas Mignard, was a French painter known for his religious and mythological scenes and portraits. He was a near-contemporary of the Premier Peintre du Roi Charles Le Brun with whom he engaged in a bitter, life-long rivalry.


Pierre Mignard was born at Troyes in 1612 as the son of Pierre and Marie Gallois. He came from a family of artisans. He was the younger brother of Nicolas, who became a painter and etcher who was mainly active in Avignon and was known as Mignard d'Avignon. Nicolas had two sons, Paul who became a painter and etcher and Pierre who became a painter and architect. To distinguish his nephew Pierre from his uncle, the nephew was called "Pierre II" or "Le Chevalier".

Pierre Mignard trained in Bourges with the Mannerist painter Jean Boucher. He later spent time making copies of the Mannerist works in the château of Fontainebleau. He then studied for a period in the studio of Simon Vouet. Mignard left for Rome in 1635 where he would stay about 22 years. It is because of his long residence in Rome that he got the nickname 'Mignard le Romaine'.

In Rome he painted religious commissions. He was particularly known for his many images of the Madonna and Child. They were so popular that they were referred to as "Mignardises." He also painted altarpieces. Compatriot Nicolas Poussin hired Mignard to make copies of his works. He was also active as a reproductive engraver making copies after Annibale Carracci. Mignard also developed his lifelong interest in portraiture at this time, and he painted portraits of subsequent popes, cardinals, and prominent members of the Italian nobility. He also travelled to Northern Italy where he visited Bologna, Parma, Mantua, Florence and Venice.

His reputation was such that he was summoned to Paris in 1657, probably by Cardinal Mazarin. He travelled back via Avignon where his brother Nicolas worked. Here he met the dramatist Molière, who became a close friend and of whom he painted several portraits. In Paris he became a popular portrait painter. He found favor with king Louis XIV who sat for many portraits. Mignard became a rival of the leading French painter of that time and first painter to the King, Charles Le Brun. He declined to enter the Academy of which Le Brun was the head. Mignard also opposed the authority of the Academy. His brother Nicolas and his nephew Paul, who was his pupil, chose the side of Le Brun against Pierre, which led to a break in the relationship.

With the death of Le Brun in 1690, the situation changed. Mignard succeeded to all the posts held by his opponent. He died in 1695 at Paris as he was about to begin work on the cupola of Les Invalides.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Pierre Mignard.