- Mignon, Abraham
- German, 1640 - 1679
The son of shopkeepers, Abraham Mignon was born in Frankfurt, Germany, and baptized into the Calvinist church on June 21, 1640. When his parents moved to Wetzlar in 1649, Mignon was placed under the care and artistic apprenticeship of Jacob Marrell (1614-1681), a still-life painter and art dealer. Marrell was undoubtedly impressed with Mignon's abilities, for he entrusted his affairs to Mignon whenever he was away in Holland on business. Furthermore, Marrell asked Mignon to instruct his step-daughter, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), in still-life painting. By 1664 Marrell and Mignon had left Frankfurt for Utrecht, and in 1669 both were registered in the St. Luke's Guild there. While in Utrecht, Mignon maintained the strong religious beliefs that he inherited from his family. In 1672 he was elected deacon of the Waalse Kerk of Utrecht, a position he held for five years. Mignon married Maria Willaerts, the cousin of the seascape painter Adam Willaerts (1577-1664), in 1675. He died just a few years later, and was buried on March 27, 1679 in Utrecht.
Throughout his short career Mignon painted a variety of still-life subjects, but he is best known for his compositions of flowers and fruits placed on stone ledges and in niches, or set within ruins and grottos. Mignon developed a distinct style marked by precise detail and drawing. His oeuvre clearly reflects the influence of a number of painters, including Marrell and, most importantly, Jan Davidsz. de Heem. Mignon and De Heem both entered the Utrecht painters' guild in 1669, and Mignon must have studied with him. De Heem's influence is best seen in Mignon's use of bright colors, assurance of drawing, and his increasingly elaborate compositions.
Considering that he died before his fortieth birthday, many of the approximately four hundred still-life paintings that have been attributed to Mignon are undoubtedly the works of followers and imitators. Nevertheless, this enormous following attests to the popularity of his compositions which were eagerly sought by collectors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the Elector of Saxony and Louis XIV of France. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
- Houbraken, Arnold. De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche Konstschilders en Schilderessen. 3 vols. in 1. The Hague, 1753 (Reprint: Amsterdam, 1976): 3:82-83.
- Bol, Laurens J. Holländische Maler des 17. Jahrhunderts nahe den Grossen Meister. Landschaft und Stilleben. Braunschweig, 1969: 320-323.
- Kraemer-Noble, Magdalena. Abraham Mignon 1640-1679. Leigh-on-Sea, 1973.
- Wheelock, Jr., Arthur K. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 172.