William Charles Piguenit was born in Hobart, the son of a convict of French Huguenot extraction. He was employed as a mapmaker by the Tasmanian Lands and Survey Department in 1850 and learnt lithography there from the painter Frank Dunnett (1822-91) and Robin Vaughan Hood (best remembered now as a framer, 1802-88) and developed an interest in photography. Piguenit accompanied James R Scott's expedition to Arthur Plains and Port Davey in 1871, to Lake St Clair in 1873 and exhibited photographs and paintings throughout the 1870s. He moved to Sydney in 1880, settled in Hunter's Hill and travelled extensively in search of landscape subjects. He visited England and Wales in 1898 and 1900. He is perhaps best known for his Tasmanian landscapes and his monumental painting 'The flood on the Darling 1890' (1895) in the Gallery's collection.
Although this watercolour was awarded second prize in the John Sands competition of 1881, its three judges, E L Montefiore, Eccleston Du Faur and John Garbett, were reported in the 'Telegraph' as stating that for 'purely artistic qualities' they considered it better than the work to which they gave first prize, C E Hern's 'Govett's Gorge looking towards the Valley of the Grose'. However, they believed that Hern's work (also purchased by the Gallery in 1881) suited the requirements of the prize better – 'being an excellent representation of a well-known and very characteristic scene, familiar to all tourists in New South Wales.'
excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005
pencil, watercolour, scraping out, white gouache highlights on white wove paper
33.2 x 52.9 cm sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 6 exhibitions
John Sands' art competition (1881), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Nov 1881 -
110 Years of Australian Art, Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, Sep 1950 -
An historical survey of Australian watercolour painting:
- Katoomba Town Hall, Katoomba 06 Mar 1951–20 Mar 1951
- Lithgow Council Chambers, Lithgow 03 Apr 1951–17 Apr 1951
- Cowra Town Hall, Cowra 22 May 1951–05 Jun 1951
- Grenfell Council Chambers, Grenfell 19 Jun 1951–03 Jul 1951
- Young Public Library, Young 14 Aug 1951–28 Aug 1951
- Cootamundra Council Chambers, Cootamundra 18 Sep 1951–02 Oct 1951
- Wagga Wagga Council Chambers, Wagga Wagga 20 Oct 1951–30 Oct 1951
Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection (1991), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Apr 1991–07 Jul 1991
W.C. Piguenit 1836-1914:
19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Apr 2005–24 Jul 2005
Referenced in 9 publications
James Backhouse Walker, Walk to the west, Hobart, 1993, 41 (colour illus.). plate no. 15
Jean Campbell, Australian watercolour painters: 1780 to the present day, 'The 1850s, 1860s and 1870s', pg. 52-61, Sydney, 1989, 59 (colour illus.).
Christa E. Johannes and Tony Brown, W.C. Piguenit 1836-1914: retrospective, Hobart, 1992, 24 (colour illus.), 107. cat.no. 72
Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2005, 70, 71 (colour illus.).
Hendrik Kolenberg, Nineteenth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1991. cat.no. 58
National Art Gallery of New South Wales, An historical survey of Australian watercolour painting, Australian Commonwealth Jubilee celebrations 1951, Sydney, 1951. cat.no. 6
Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Fine arts', Sydney, 21 Nov 1881.
Editor Unknown (Editor), Sydney daily telegraph, 'John Sands' competition', Sydney, 19 Nov 1881.
Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Fine arts', Sydney, 16 Nov 1881.