Born Hobart, Australia 1836, died Hunters Hill, New South Wales 1914
The Sydney suburb of Lane Cove, with lush bushland and rich mangrove swamps lining the river, provided William Charles Piguenit with continuous inspiration throughout the 1880s and 1890s. From his house in Hunters Hill, he could look out upon the river and watch the changing sky at dusk: ‘I often look down the estuary of Lane Cove, near our house, and am struck with the blueness of the landscape. The trees, at a distance of only half a mile, are a rich purple blue indefiniteness to the whole landscape, which is often intensified in the early mornings’1
By the time Piguenit had settled in Sydney in 1875 he was already an artist of considerable standing in Tasmania. During the 1890s he turned away from the majestic to focus on detailed aspects of nature.
He is counted amongst Australia’s most important colonial landscape artists and his painting Mount Olympus, Lake St Clair, Tasmania (1875) was the first Australian oil painting to be purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He was awarded the Wynne Prize for landscape in 1901. Piguenit’s paintings have been included in Tasmanian Vision, Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery and Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston (1988); The Great Australian Art Exhibition 1788–1988, Art Gallery of South Australia and touring all state galleries (1988–89), and are represented at the National Gallery of Australia and most state galleries.
1 W.C Piguenit, 1886 as quoted in Tim Bonyhady, Australian Colonial paintings in the Australian National Gallery, p. 157, footnoted: quoted in W.V. Legge, W.C. Piguenit: An Appreciation of a Tasmanian Artist, Passmore, Launceston 1992, p. 8.