William Charles Piguenit ( 1836 - 1914)

Piguenit was born in Hobart, Tasmania where he spent most of his life working as an artist. He began as a draughtsman with the Tasmanian Lands and Survey Department where he provided lithographic illustrations of Tasmanian landscapes. Piguenit’s illustrations are unique as he painted and drew from direct experience of the landscape, unlike other colonial illustrators who would create their landscapes as composite views. He would often embark on long expeditions recording images of unexplored terrain within Tasmania, even climbing mountains to gain a better view of the landscape. His monochrome paintings were created with the specific purpose of being used for the illustrated press in the 1870s. In the 1880’s Piguenit was employed as an artist for the “Picturesque Atlas of Australasia” one of the most ambitious publications of the time using only the best artists and finest engravings. Piguenit, unlike the colonial other artists- who often depicted colonial scenes or the white settlers’ achievements, focused on illustrating the grandeur of nature in the Australian landscape. Dinah Dysart in “Art and Australia (Winter 1992)” describes Piguenit as a nineteenth century environmentalist “His art reveals in no small measure a respect for the environment which is surely the most important single issue of our times.” He maintained a sense of pride in promoting the beauty of the Tasmanian landscape throughout his life. He was considered the leading Australian-born landscape painter by the end of the nineteenth century.

Ref: “To the Surface- Contemporary Landscape” (Arnold) 1993

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