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William Charles Piguenit was an Australian landscape painter.
Piguenit was born in Hobart, Tasmania, to Frederick Le Geyt Piguenit and Mary Ann née Igglesden. Frederick had been transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1830, with Frederick's fiancee, Mary Ann, following him. They married in Hobart in 1833.
William’s first artistic influences came from his mother, who set up a school for young ladies where she taught "French, music and drawing".
In 1850 William became a draftsman with the Tasmanian Lands & Survey Department, working in particular on the Geological Survey of Tasmania.
During this period of employment Piguenit provided lithographic illustrations for, The Salmon Ponds and vicinity, New Norfolk Tasmania (Hobart Town: M.L. Henn, ).
He took painting lessons from the Scottish painter Frank Dunnett but until he got a good price for a painting from Sir James Agnew, he had little success as a painter.
Piguenit left the public service in 1873 to devote his time more fully to painting and his oils and watercolours of Tasmanian landscapes soon brought favourable reviews.
He was a participant in the venture to the western part of Tasmania - as found in the book Walk to the West.
After moving to NSW in 1880 Piguenit's subjects included the Darling, Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers as well as the Lane Cove River close to his Hunters Hill home. It was also at this time that he became one of the founders of the Art Society of New South Wales.
Later, during a visit to Tasmania he was noticed by the governor's wife, Lady Hamilton and a large number of his drawings were purchased by the government for the Hobart gallery.
His Flood in the Darling was purchased for the National Gallery of New South Wales (now Art Gallery of New South Wales) in 1895. In 1898 and 1900 he visited Europe, exhibiting at London and Paris. Returning to Australia he won the Wynne Prize* in 1901 with his Thunder Storm on the Darling; then in 1903 he was commissioned by the National Gallery of New South Wales trustees to paint Mount Kosciusko.
By the end of the century he was regarded as the leading Australian-born landscape painter.
Piguenit died on 17 July 1914 and was buried in the Field of Mars cemetery.
Inscription on headstone (Field of Mars Cemetery: C of E, Sec. C. Grave 618): IN LOVING MEMORY OF WILLIAM CHARLES PIGUENIT DIED 17th JULY 1914; AGED 77 YEARS. "UNTO THE UPRIGHT THERE ARISETH LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS"
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery of South Australia
• An Australian fjord, n.d.
Geelong Art Gallery
National Gallery of Australia
• Hell's Gates, Davey River, Tasmania, 1871
• Near Liverpool, New South Wales, c.1908
• On the Nepean, New South Wales, n.d.
National Library of Australia
• Mt. Olympus, Lake St. Clair, Tasmania, 1878
• On the Craycroft (i.e. Cracroft), Tasmania, 1878
• Tasmanian landscape, c. 1880
• Mount King William from Lake George, Tasmania, 1887
State Library of Tasmania
• On the Derwent, n.d.
• In the Grose Valley, 1887
• Lane Cove from below the Bridge, near Sydney N.S.Wales, n.d.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG)
• The Tower of Strength, c. 1900
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