Historical information

"Victoria the Golden" documents life in Victoria between 1850 and 1862 as viewed by artist William Strutt. Momentous events in the Colony’s history such as Separation Day (1 July 1851), the sitting of the first Legislative Council (13 November 1851), the death of Burke (June 1861) and the Black Thursday bushfires (6 February 1851) are depicted. In 1907 the Premier of Victoria Thomas Bent purchased "Victoria the Golden" from Strutt for £120 and presented it to the Library. The album depicts events in chronological order with what Strutt considered “fidelity to nature and accuracy”, so that present day Victorians may view the sketches “as records of what we may now look upon as the dim past in the rapidly progressive history of Victoria”.

Significance

Victoria the Golden is celebrated as one of the Parliament’s great treasures. It is a testament to William Strutt’s skill as a draughtsman and contains over 100 assorted images which were executed between the years of 1850-1862. Strutt’s particular talent was to be able to step back and record each event with particular care to detail. Many of the pieces contained within this album are littered with notes, such as the correct resting position of a corporal’s sword or details about the cloth and cut of a subject’s jacket. Strutt also notes in one of his many sketches of the new Legislative Council chamber at Spring Street that the President, Sir James Palmer, is seated ‘a little too high’ (page 30). Throughout the album, Strutt’s illustrations bring to life the diverse nature and peoples of the new colony. His range of subjects is comprehensive and includes parliamentarians, lawyers, wives and daughters, merchants, labourers, police and military officers, indigenous communities, farmers, miners, prisoners and explorers. The everyday and the extraordinary are depicted with each turn of the page.

Physical description

44 leaves heavy card, approximately 1mm thick. Sketches, watercolours and prints of varying sizes and papers are glued onto the pages. Full leather binding in blue leather with title and decorative border in gold. There are four raised bands on the spine, with gold decoration on the bands and at the head and tail of the spine. Marbled end papers and flyleaves. Gold on the edges of the book block. Card pages have a sheet of mottled blue paper on recto. Album leaf connection is a guarded system with stiff stubs and cloth hinges. Each page has a sheet of glassine paper attached at the binding edge to protect the images. Many pages stamped with "Parliament of Victoria" verso.

Inscriptions & markings

Printed in gold, recto: "VICTORIA THE GOLDEN/ SCENES,/ SKETCHES,/ AND JOTTINGS FROM NATURE./ BY/ Wm. STRUTT/ MELBOURNE, VICTORIA./ 1850-1862" First pages include handwritten 'introductory remarks' and index of plates.