An image of The Upper Nepean

WC Piguenit

(Australia 27 Aug 1836 – 17 Jul 1914)

The Upper Nepean

Other titles:
The Upper Nepean, N.S.W., The Upper Nepean, New South Wales
19th c Australian art
Further information

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

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
Accession number