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Landscape and animal painter; engraver, and draughtsman.
Chaigneau attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts from 1849-1857 as a pupil of François Edouard Picot, Jacques Raymond Brascassat, and Jules Coignet, the latter of whom was especially responsible for Chaigneau’s turn away from the academic, classical tradition of landscape painting. Chaigneau won third place in the 1854 Rome Prize Competition in historical landscape painting; the same year he was awarded an artistic stipend from his hometown of Bordeaux. In 1857, when he lost in the annual competitions and his stipend expired, he began to turn away from the Academic training he had received.
He moved to Barbizon in 1858, while also keeping a residence in Paris, and began orienting his art toward nature, after coming into contact with Jean François Millet and other artists then living and working in Barbizon. His landscape subjects, however, also included scenes from Bordelais, the Landes, Limousin, and Normandy in addition to scenes from the forest of Fontainebleau. Beginning in the late 1860’s, under the artistic influence of the Barbizon artist Charles Jacque, Chaigneau developed his well-known fondness for painting flocks of sheep, which he had observed in the Chailly Valley region near Barbizon. His success in this genre earned him the affectionate nickname of “the Raphael of sheep.”
His works—in oils, watercolors, and engravings—were recognized as early as the 1890’s as an original contribution to the development of Impressionism, especially for his handling of the effects of light. Chaigneau exhibited at the Paris Salon as early as 1848, winning awards in 1855, 1889, and 1900, as well as exhibiting at the International Exposition held at Santiago, Chile in 1875, the World’s Colombian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, at Barcelona, Spain, in 1880 and 1888, and at the Societé des Amis des Arts, Bordeaux, from 1851-1903.
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