MEQUIGNON, PETER

(b. 1768, d. 1826)

Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Son of Peter Mequignon, a French cook who came to Ireland with the Marquess Townshend, Lord Lieutenant, in 1767, and in the following year established himself as a pastry-cook in Britain Street where he carried on business for many years. He afterwards moved to Sackville Street and Park Street, and in 1794 opened a tavern in Dawson Street. He catered for public and private entertainments, including the winter assemblies in the Rotunda Gardens, and had also assembly rooms at Blackrock. His son, Peter, was born in or about 1768, and became a pupil in the Dublin Society's Schools where he won prizes and medals. In 1788 he presented to the society several "copies from eminent masters," for which he was awarded a silver palette. In the same year he went to London and entered as a student in the Royal Academy where he gained a medal for his drawings in 1791. In that year, and again in 1793, he sent portrait drawings to the Academy exhibition. Returning to Dublin he exhibited portraits in oil at the Society of Artists in 1800 and 1801. A contemporary newspaper, referring to his works in these exhibitions, speaks of him as "a most improving portrait painter"; but the writer of the anonymous "Journal," in the Royal Irish Academy, refers to his "flat, stupid portraits," and to his picture of "William Tell shooting the Apple" as "a miserable, tawdry exhibition of the most glaring colours."

Mequignon did not exhibit again in Dublin; he was in Belfast in 1802, but nothing further is heard of him until 1825 when he was in London and exhibited at the Academy. He exhibited again in 1826 and died on the 26th September of that year. His widow applied to the Artists' General Benevolent Institution for relief in 1827 and again in 1829, when her application was recommended by Martin Archer Shee and supported by Sir Thomas Lawrence (original document signed by Shee and Lawrence in possession of W. G. Strickland). Mequignon painted a "Crucifixion" in 1800 for Clarendon Street Chapel; a "Portrait of Richard, Earl Howe," was engraved in mezzotint by Robert Laurie in 1794—the picture being then in possession of Vice-Admiral Braithwaite—and as a book-illustration by A. Cooper; and an etched portrait of "Wybrand Lolkes, the celebrated man in miniature," a dwarf twenty-seven inches high who was exhibited at Astley's, was published in 1790.

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