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Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook

STRUTT, William 1825–1915

page 228

STRUTT, William 1825–1915

Born England, son of an artist and grandson of the engraver and antiquarian Joseph Strutt. Much of his boyhood spent in France, where he studied art under Michael Drolling, the atelier visited by Ingres, Delacroix and Bernet. Worked as an engraver: illustrated Le Moyen Age at la Renaissance by Ferdinand Sere and Sacred and Legendary Art by Arina Johnson. For health reasons went to Australia 1850, settling in Melbourne: worked as an illustrator for The Illustrated Australian Magazine, painted, and became the best known Melbourne artist before the gold rush, though his most celebrated painting of the terrible bush fire of that time, “Black Thursday February 6th 1851” was completed in London 1862 from sketches made at the time. February 1852 went to the goldfields, only lasted a few weeks there, but back in Melbourne produced a series of lithographs, Diggings Life, and published What I Heard, Saw and Did at the Australian Goldfields. Had married in Melbourne and in 1855–56 spent a year in New Zealand, mostly in Taranaki. Made pencil and watercolour sketches of Maori and pioneer life and at least two oils. Returned to Melbourne, but left Australia 1862 to return to England: lived in London, painted and exhibited and was awarded medals in the Intercolonial Exhibitions of 1864, 1873, 1874, and 1896; became a leading member of the Royal British Society of Colonial Artists. Work included Centennial Ex Wtn 1940. Two volumes of his New Zealand sketches and two oils are in Turnbull.