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» Ludwig Becker (1808-61)

Ludwig Becker (1808-61)

William Strutt, Portrait of Ludwig Becker
Parliamentary Library of Victoria

Born in Darmstadt, Germany, Becker arrived in Australia in 1851, and soon became a prominent figure in Melbourne's scientific and artistic circles. In 1860, at the age of 52, he might have been considered too old for what was expected to be a difficult journey, but his seniority within the Royal Society seems to have secured him his place on the expedition.

In an age before convenient photography, skilled scientific illustrators like Becker were necessary to record the discoveries the expedition hoped to make. His brilliant renderings of landscapes, people and wildlife remain the outstanding treasure of an otherwise failed venture.

Burke took a dislike to Becker, and soon reduced him to the status of a labourer, forcing him to steal the time to make his drawings and write his journal. Left with the party in Menindie, he succumbed to a lethally inadequate diet and died of the combined effects of dysentery and scurvy.