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Australian art

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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 focused on motifs of heavy grandeur. His work is closely related to that of emigre Australian artists, Eugene von 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 30kg

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

Referenced in 37 publications


Art Gallery of South Australia, The Australian landscape, Adelaide, 1972. 18

Australian Gallery Directors Council, Old master paintings from the USSR: A survey of four centuries of European art. Report, Sydney, 1979, (illus.). 55

Hubert Howe Bancroft, The book of the fair; an historical and descriptive presentation of the world's science, art, and industry, as viewed through the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, 'Chapter the Twenty-First: Fine Arts', pg. 665-764, Chicago, 1893, 728.

Tim Bonyhady, Images in opposition: Australian landscape painting 1801–1890, 'The wilderness intact', pg. 81-86, Melbourne, 1985, 84, 85 (illus.), 177.

Edmund Capon, Apollo: the international art magazine, 'Lay of the land', pg. 36-42, London, Jul 2013-Aug 2013, 38, 39 (colour illus.). Feature: Australian landscape art

Deborah Edwards, Two centuries of Australian painting: a selection from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Introduction', pg. 8-14, Sydney, 1986, 20 (illus.). 8

Suzanne Fraser, For Auld Lang Syne: images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation, 'Scottish Art, Highlandism and the colonial art museum', pg. 229-237, Ballarat, 2014, 236, 237 (colour illus.).

James Gleeson, Masterpieces of Australian painting, Melbourne, 1969, 45 (colour illus.). plate no. 7

Simon Gregg, New romantics: darkness and light in Australian art, 'The glacial', pg. 96-129, North Melbourne, 2011, 106, 108 (colour illus.).

Christa E. Johannes and Tony Brown, W.C. Piguenit 1836-1914: retrospective, Hobart, 1992, 52 (colour illus.) 101, 103. 24

Elizabeth Johns, Andrew Sayers, Elizabeth Kornhauser, Amy Ellis, Patrick McCaughey, Peter Sutton and Brian Kennedy, New Worlds From Old, 'In Awe of the Land', pg. 153-176, Parkes, 1997, 163 (colour illus.). 71

Elwyn Lynn, The Australian landscape and its artists, Rushcutters Bay, 1977, 36, 38 (colour illus.).

Frances McCarthy, Ian North and Daniel Thomas AM, Australian landscape 1802-1975, 'The Australian Landscape', Adelaide, 1972. 18; not shown in Adelaide [replaced by Tom Roberts work from NGV]

Australian artists: Some have real artistic merit and the collection is credible', Chicago Daily Tribune, 'Pictures, pg. 9, Chicago, 08 Jun 1893, 9.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1891, Sydney, 1891, 66. 227, Australian Court

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899. 270, Oil Paintings-Australian

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1888, Sydney, 1888. 161, Oil Paintings, Titled 'The Upper Nepean, NSW'

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1893, Sydney, 1893, 107. 367, Loan collection to Commissioners of the Chicago Exposition

H.R. Nicholls (Editor), Mercury, Hobart, 07 Oct 1895, page unknown.

Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 16.

Barry Pearce, A century of Australian landscape: mood and moment, Sydney, 1983, 14, 29 (colour illus.). 12

Royal Art Society of New South Wales, Art Society of New South Wales Spring Exhibition Catalogue (1889), Sydney, 1889, 6, 11 (illus.). 17; titled 'The Upper Nepean, N.S.W.'; price £84.0.0

Ken Sheldrick, Antiques and art Australasia, 'William Charles Piquenit', Sydney, 22 Dec 1970, 10 (illus.).

Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'The late Colonial artists 1851-1885', pg. 48-70, South Melbourne, 1991, 53 (colour illus.), 59-60. plate no. 38

Bernard William Smith, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 162.

Hugh Speirs, Manning Clark and John Olsen, Landscape art and the Blue Mountains, Australia, 1981, 100 (illus.).

Clare Temple, Foundation Newsletter #24, 'Curators' and coordinators' reports', pg. 8-11, Sydney, Jul 2014, 11.

Vaurien, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The Art Gallery', pg. 5, Sydney, 13 Dec 1890, 5. see curator's Worksheet

Olivia Welch, Nicole Welch: Eastern interiors: explorations from Bathurst to Albury, 'Nicole Welch: forward reflections', pg. 4-7, Waterloo, 2015, 6 (colour illus.). WC Piguenit's 'The Upper Nepean' is referenced in Nicole Welch's 'Apparitions' series

Natalie Wilson, Selling a nation: Australian artists at International Exhibitions [M.A., University of Sydney], 'Organisation of the New South Wales display in Chicago', pg.18-45, Sydney, 2001, between 24-25 (colour illus.), 25, 26, 27, 52. figure no. 10

Editor Unknown (Editor), Sydney mail and New South Wales advertiser, Sydney, 12 Oct 1889, page unknown.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The Art Society's Exhibition', pg. 4, Sydney, 04 Oct 1889, 4. see curator's Worksheet

Editor Unknown (Editor), Sydney mail and New South Wales advertiser, Sydney, 19 Oct 1889, reproduced as black and white woodcut.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily telegraph, Sydney, 22 Jul 1893, page unknown.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 25 May 1895, page unknown.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Illustrated Sydney News, Sydney, 17 Oct 1889, reproduced as black and white woodcut.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Bulletin, Sydney, 26 Oct 1889, page unknown.