Abraham Mignon

Abraham Mignon

 

 

 

Abraham Mignon was born in Frankfurt-am-Main, the son of a cheese merchant and the descendant of Walloon craftsmen who had emigrated from the French-speaking part of the Catholic Southern Netherlands in order to practice their Calvinist faith. Although his parents moved to Wetzlar in 1649, Abraham became a pupil of Jacob Marrel in Frankfurt, probably towards the end of 1650. Marrel brought Mignon to Utrecht on one of his many visits to that city, where he himself had lived in the 1630s and 40s. When this move occurred exactly is uncertain. It is generally assumed it took place around 1664, but it may well have been earlier, perhaps shortly after the death of Mignon’s father in 1660. In 1669 Mignon was registered as a master by the Utrecht guild. He was strongly influenced by Jan Davidsz. de Heem, and worked in that artist’s studio probably from his arrival in Utrecht until de Heem’s departure in 1672; after that, Mignon appears to have taken over the studio. In 1675 he married the granddaughter of the marine painter Adam Willaerts. For several years, from 1672 on, he was a deacon in the French Reformed Church in Utrecht, where he died in 1679, aged thirty-nine. He was a very prolific painter of flower and fruit pieces, and still lifes of dead birds.

 

Abraham Mignon apparently did not date any of his paintings and consequently it is quite impossible to establish a firm artistic chronology for his oeuvre, which probably spans no more than a mere fifteen years. In general, it would seem that after de Heem’s departure, Mignon’s style became more graphic and less tonal. His larger, sumptuous and most highly finished still lifes of flowers and of fruit – details of which are hardly discernable from those by de Heem – probably date from the years around 1670, when the artist was working most closely with the great master.

 

Even during Mignon’s lifetime his works were in great demand. The Elector of Saxony owned thirteen of his paintings which later entered the collection of the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden; his paintings were also acquired by Louis XIV of France. Both Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) and Coenraet Roepel (1678-1748) were inspired by Mignon’s work.

 

The work of Abraham Mignon is represented in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne; the Louvre, Paris; the Mauritshuis, The Hague; the Uffizi, Florence and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.