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The Upper Nepean



WC Piguenit


27 Aug 1836 - 17 Jul 1914


Piguenit's parents were born in England, his father being of French ancestry, but he was one of the earliest professional painters with a completely Australian background. Born in Hobart, Tasmania, he was mainly self taught, taking his models from the European romanitc school which focussed on motifs of heavy grandeur. His work is closely related to that of emigre Australian artists, Eugene fon Guerard and Nicholas Chevalier.

Piguenit joined the Tasmanian Lands Department in 1850 and finally chose to become a full-time painter in 1873. He then moved to Sydney where he gained favourable support from the newly formed Art Gallery of New South Wales, and in fact was the first artist whose work was acquired by it, in 1875.

Considering its date, 'The Upper Nepean' does not comply with the image of landscape that was then the most important expression of its time in Australian art. It reflects not only a European romantic inheritance, but also a sense of curiousity and awe that typifies Australian landscape art preceding the first consolidation of a national school in the later 1880s. However, the subject is a very real part of Australia and recalls in its vision, Piguenit's earlier experience of the waters, mountains and atmosphere of Tasmania.

Barry Pearce, in Bernice Murphy (ed.), 'USSR: Old master paintings', AGDC, Sydney, 1979


Other Titles

The Upper Nepean, N.S.W.

The Upper Nepean, New South Wales



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


91.0 x 129.9 cm stretcher; 127.5 x 165.7 x 11.2 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l., black oil "W.C. Piguenit". Not dated.


Purchased 1889


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

WC Piguenit

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 11 exhibitions

Exhibition history