William Strutt1825 - 1915 The lamb 1850-59
- oil on cardboard
William Strutt, the son and grandson of artists, sailed to Australia from England in 1850 for health reasons and found the new environment invigorating both for his health and for his work as an illustrator and painter.
On arrival in Melbourne, he was employed by the Illustrated Australian Magazine, producing engravings and prints of historical events in the life of the colony. During his time in Australia, based mostly in Melbourne, he painted a number of fine portraits as well as many watercolours and drawings of Aboriginal troopers and the Victorian Mounted Police. The last works he produced just before returning to England were a series of drawings showing the preparations of the expedition of Burke and Wills.
Yet it was in painting animals that Strutt truly excelled. His most dramatic painting, not finished until after his return to England, was Black Thursday - depicting a fearful stampede of all manner of native and farm animals running wild amidst a throng of people fleeing a rolling hot red wall of smoke. The work, imposing in scale as well as dramatic intensity, commemorated Victoria's deadly bushfires of 1851.
Strutt's beautiful oil study - The lamb - one of the first paintings acquired by Wesfarmers - is an iconic image in a collection amassed by a company with its origins in rural Western Australia. A simple yet compelling image, it is possibly a study intended for a larger painting, but perfectly successful as a work in its own right.