PIGUENIT, William Charles (1836-1914)

PIGUENIT, William Charles (1836-1914)
was born at Hobart on 27 August 1836 (Aust. Ency.). His father, Frederick de Geyh Piguenit, came of an old Huguenot family. Piguenit entered the survey department at Hobart and became a draftsman. He received some lessons in painting from Frank Dunnett, a Scottish painter, who was working in Hobart, and gave all his spare time to painting. In 1872 he retired from the public service to take up the life of an artist, but had little success in finding patrons until Sir James Agnew (q.v.) gave him a good price for a picture. About 1880 he moved to Sydney and was one of the founders of the Art Society of New South Wales. He spent much time in the country seeking subjects, and during a visit to Tasmania came under the notice of the governor's wife, Lady Hamilton. On her suggestion a large number of his drawings were purchased by the government for the Hobart gallery. In 1895 his "Flood in the Darling" was purchased for the national gallery at Sydney, and in 1898 and 1900 he visited Europe where he exhibited both at London and Paris. Returning to Australia he won the Wynne prize in 1901 with his "Thunder storm on the Darling", and two years later he was commissioned by the trustees to paint his "Mount Kosciusko" for the Sydney gallery. He died on 17 July 1914. He is represented in the Sydney, Hobart and Geelong galleries.
Piguenit was the first native-born landscape painter in Australia of any importance. His thoroughly painstaking and sincere work belongs to the Victorian tradition, now out of fashion but sound within its limits.
W. V. Legge, The Tasmanian Mail, 6 May 1915; W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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