(Australia 27 Aug 1836–17 Jul 1914)
122.5 x 199.3cm stretcher; 172.5 x 248.6 x 16.0cm frame
'The flood in the Darling 1890' is one of several ambitious canvases painted by WC Piguenit in response to the devastating rains that inundated the western region of New South Wales in 1890. It reflects his respect for the terrifying yet sublime power of nature so admired by exponents of 19th-century German Romantic painting. The largest flood recorded since 1864, waters broke the embankment and submerged the remote township of Bourke – an event Piguenit witnessed first hand. However, rather than depicting the destroyed buildings and railway lines, and the loss of livestock and human life, he has rendered the calm after the deluge. A vast expanse of sky, land and water is rendered as a symphonic celebration, with billowing purplish-hued clouds reflected across a vast glistening expanse reaching towards the viewer – ibises the only living creatures populating the tranquil landscape.
Son of a convict transported to Van Diemen's Land in 1830, William Charles Piguenit was raised and schooled in Hobart, and spent 22 years working in the Department of Lands survey office as a draughtsman. Although he received rudimentary instruction in painting, he was largely self taught. After leaving the survey office in 1872, he began making sketching and photography trips to remote and spectacular regions in the Tasmanian wilderness. He achieved early success through public patronage when he exhibited his works in the annual Sydney and Melbourne academy shows.
His striking 'Mount Olympus, Lake St Clair, Tasmania, source of the Derwent' was the first work by an Australian-born artist to be acquired, in 1875, by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. That same year, Piguenit joined an artists and photographers camp in the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains. By 1880 Piguenit had settled in Sydney with his family. Continued patronage by the Gallery enabled him to tour New South Wales and Tasmania, providing fresh inspiration for his grand, sweeping landscapes and measured studies of the natural environment.
Piguenit continued his successful career well into the 20th century, including the completion, in 1903, of the commanding 'Mount Kosciusko' which was commissioned by the trustees of this Gallery; the majestic depiction of the continent’s highest peak marking the enormity of the Federation of Australia in 1901.
Emily O'Gorman (Author), Flood country: an environmental history of the Murray-Darling Basin, Collingwood, 2012, front cover (colour illus.).
Simon Gregg (Author), New romantics: darkness and light in Australian art, North Melbourne, 2011, 35, 36 (colour illus.).
'Bold claims and paradoxes' by David Hansen, pg. 12-13., Australian book review Mar 2009, Mar 2009, 13. Book review of John McDonald's 'The Art of Australia, vol 1: Exploration to Federation'.
Deutscher-Menzies, Sydney (Australia), Lawson-Menzies (Australia), Deutscher-Menzies & Lawson-Menzies, Sydney: Major fine art auction - 25 March 2009, Sydney, 2009, 58-59. NOTE: Related work; lot no. 35; titled 'The flood on the Darling River, New South Wales'; dated circa 1890; oil on canvas.
'Be guided and beguiled: Another way of looking at our gallery' by Les Moseley, pg.12-13., Look May 2008, May 2008, 13 (colour illus.).
Christine Dixon (Author), Turner to Monet: the triumph of landscape painting, Canberra, 2008, 144, 145 (colour illus.). cat.no. 49
Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Author), Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 57 (colour illus.).
Editor Unknown (Editor), Sotheby's Melbourne: Important Australian Art, 24 November 2008, Australia, 2008, 48.
John McDonald (Australia, b.1961) (Author), Art of Australia. Vol. 1: Exploration to Federation, Sydney, 2008, 218-219 (colour illus.).
'Landscapes of childhood' by Robert Pascoe, pg. 27-29., Overland (no. 175) Winter 2004, Winter 2004, 28 (illus.).
Ron Radford (Australia, b.1949) (Author), Our country: Australian Federation landscape 1900-1914, Adelaide, 2001, 38, 42.
Stuart Hill (Australia, b.1943) (Author), Martin Mulligan (Australia) (Author), Ecological pioneers: a social history of Australian ecological thought and action, Cambridge, 2001, 43.
Paul Kane (United States of America, b.1950) (Author), Drowned lands: poems, South Carolina, 2000, dust jacket (colour illus., front cover).
Barry Pearce (Australia) (Author), Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Domain, 2000, 18, 36 (colour illus.), 301.
Bruce James (Australia) (Author), Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Director), Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, Domain, 1999, 121 (colour illus.).
'New worlds from old: 19th Century Australian and American landscape' by Jane Clark, pg. 4-6, Art Monthly Australia May 1998, May 1998, 4-6, 5 (illus.).
Landscapes of the Murray-Darling Basin 1998 1998, 1998, colour illus..
Elizabeth Johns (Author), Andrew Sayers (Australia, b.1957) (Author), Elizabeth Kornhauser (Author), Amy Ellis (Author), Patrick McCaughey (Northern Ireland; Australia, b.1943) (Author), Peter Sutton (Author), Brian Kennedy (Author), New Worlds From Old, Parkes, 1997, 64-65, 185 (colour illus.), 199. cat.no. 89
Ewen McDonald (Australia) (Editor), The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, Sydney, 1994, 20 (colour illus.), 21.
William Barton (Editor), Wilderness, the future: papers from the fourth National Wilderness Conference, 1993, Sydney, 1994, 176 (illus.).
Christa Johannes (Australia) (Author), Tony Brown (Australia) (Author), W.C. Piguenit 1836-1914: retrospective, Hobart, 1992, 30-31, 48, 59 (colour illus.), 104. cat.no. 37
'W.C. Piguenit: 19th century environmentalist' by Dinah Dysart, pg. 480-487, Art and Australia (Vol. 29, No. 4) Winter 1992, Winter 1992, 485 (illus.).
Daniel Thomas (Editor), Ron Radford (Australia, b.1949) (Assistant Co-ordinator), Creating Australia: 200 years of art 1788-1988, Melbourne, 1988, 8, 104-105, 105 (colour illus.), 234-235, 247.
Annabel Davie (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Handbook, Domain, 1988, 16-17.
'The wilderness intact', pg. 81-86., Images in opposition: Australian landscape painting 1801-1890 1985, 1985, opposite pg. 82 (colour illus.), 84. plate no. 13
Martin Terry (Australia) (Author), Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1984, 46-47 (colour illus.).
Edmund Capon (England; Australia, b.1940) (Editor), Jan Meek (Australia) (Editor), Portrait of a Gallery, Sydney, 1984, 26 (colour illus.).
Editor Unknown (Editor), Great Australian landscape paintings, Melbourne, 1973, 63 (colour illus.). plate no. 20
Editor Unknown (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Domain, 1972, 75 (colour illus.).
Bernard Smith (Australia, b.1916, d.2011) (Author), Australian painting 1788-1970, South Melbourne, 1971, 63 (illus.).
Hal Missingham (Australia, b.1906, d.1994) (Author), A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Domain, 1953. cat.no. 57
George Galway (Australia) (Author), Fifty years of Australian art 1879-1929, New South Wales, 1929, 55 (sepia).
‘National Art Gallery: The Australian Court’ by Julian Ashton., Daily telegraph 27 Sep 1905, 27 Sep 1905, unknown.
National Art Gallery of New South Wales (Australia, estab. 1874) (Author), Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899, 47 (illus.).
The Tasmanian Mail 05 Mar 1898, 05 Mar 1898, page unknown.
Grafton Galleries (England) (Author), Exhibition of Australian art in London, London, 1898. cat.no. 100
The Artist 1898, 1898, 106, 108 (illus.).
The Sydney Morning Herald 26 Oct 1897, 26 Oct 1897, page unknown.
Daily telegraph 31 Oct 1896, 31 Oct 1896, page unknown.
Sydney mail and New South Wales advertiser 12 Oct 1895, 12 Oct 1895, 75 (illus.).
Mercury 07 Oct 1895, 07 Oct 1895, page unknown.
'Epitome of news', pg. 2., Mercury 07 Oct 1895, 07 Oct 1895, 2.
Bulletin 05 Oct 1895, 05 Oct 1895, page unknown.
The Australian star 28 Sep 1895, 28 Sep 1895, page unknown.
'The Art Society of New South Wales: Annual exhibition of pictures'., Daily telegraph 28 Sep 1895, 28 Sep 1895, 10.
'Pictures for the National Gallery'; 'Art Society's Exhibition', pg. 7., The Sydney Morning Herald 28 Sep 1895, 28 Sep 1895, 7.
Royal Art Society of New South Wales (Australia, estab. 1880) (Author), Art Society of New South Wales Sixteenth Annual Exhibition Catalogue, Sydney, 1895, 8, 9 (b&w line drawing). cat.no. 25; price £157.10.0
'Review of the year 1895'., Mercury 01 Jan 1895, 01 Jan 1895, 3, 4.
Sixteenth Annual Exhibition of the Art Society of New South Wales (1895), Society Rooms, Union Chambers, 28 Sep 1895 -.
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953.
W.C. Piguenit 1836-1914, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 16 Dec 1992–14 Feb 1993.
W.C. Piguenit 1836-1914, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 10 Mar 1993–25 Apr 1993.
W.C. Piguenit 1836-1914, Art Gallery of Western Australia, 13 May 1993–04 Jul 1993.
New Worlds From Old: Australian and American Landscape Painting in the Nineteenth Century, National Gallery of Australia, 07 Mar 1998–17 May 1998.
New Worlds From Old: Australian and American Landscape Painting in the Nineteenth Century, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 12 Sep 1998–06 Dec 1998.
New Worlds From Old: Australian and American Landscape Painting in the Nineteenth Century, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, 26 Jan 1999–18 Apr 1999.
The Triumph of landscape: Turner to Monet, National Gallery of Australia, 14 Mar 2008–09 Jul 2008.