William Strutt (1825-1915) arrived in Victoria in 1850 to become one of the few artists in Australia in the mid 19th century to have extensive training in figure painting. Born to a family of artists he received six years of academic artistic education in Paris between 1838 and 1844.
Strutt published engravings in the first issue of the Illustrated Australian Magazine. He designed, engraved or lithographed postage stamps, posters, maps, transparencies and seals and began to learn all he could about the history of the colony. In between sketching and painting important historical occasions, he received commissions for portraits in oil.
He also painted many miniature water-colour portraits of Aboriginal troopers as well as members of the Victorian mounted police. When bushrangers held up a number of people in St Kilda Road, he produced lively sketches of the event and later a fine oil painting. But his most dramatic work, not finished until after his return to England, was ‘Black Thursday’ commemorating the tragic bush fires in Victoria in February 1851; it was acquired by the State Library of Victoria.