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State Library of NSW
Trained as an artist in England and France, William Strutt has been described as the finest figure painter in Victoria during his residence there between 1850 and 1862. Strutt aspired to record important events in the colony in the genre of history painting, and took a keen interest in the Victorian Exploring Expedition led by Burke and Wills in 1860-61. He made several studies of their preparations at Royal Park, Melbourne, and followed the expedition to its first camp at Essendon. Strutt collected first-hand accounts from the rescue party and from King, the expedition's sole survivor, upon their return. The portraits, detailed studies and annotations that Strutt executed on the scene provided material for his works in oil, watercolour and engraving over the next five decades following his return to England in 1862.