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Biographical entry Becker, Ludwig (1808 - 1861)

Born
5 September 1808
Darmstadt, Germany
Died
29 April 1861
Bulloo, south of Cooper Creek, Queensland, Australia
Occupation
Artist and Naturalist

Summary

Ludwig Becker was an artist and naturalist whose early career was as an artist with the publishing and bookbinding company of Heinrich Ludwig Bronner in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. For some time he served as an officer in a rifle company. Before arriving in Australia he was in Rio de Janeiro from 1848 to 1850. Between March 1851 and November 1852 Becker was in Van Diemens Land where he was well-known as a painter of miniature portraits. For six years he lived in Melbourne and entered into the scientific and artistic life of the colony. His skills as artist and lithographer were employed by Ferdinand Mueller for his Plants indigenous to the colony of Victoria and the early volumes of his Fragmenta phytographiae australiae, and by Frederick McCoy for his Prodromus of the zoology of Victoria. In 1860 Becker was appointed artist, naturalist and geographer to the Victorian Exploring Expedition. Despite his testy relationship with the leader of the Expedition, Robert Burke, Becker made considerable contributions to the documentation of the Expedition in the form of his diary, illustrations, letters and reports, and meteorological observations. He remained at the depot camp party at Menindee when the main party travelled to Cooper Creek.

Details

Born Darmstadt, Germany, 5 September 1808. Died Bulloo, near Cooper's Creek, 28 April 1861. Lithographic work, Frankfurt from 1828; apparently qualified as a doctor of philosophy; served for a time as an officer in a rifle company; Rio de Janeiro 1848-50; arrived Launceston 10 March 1851; painted miniatures 1851-52; gold digging in Bendigo 1852-54; meteorological observations and sketches 1852-54; illustrated works by Ferdinand von Mueller and Frederick McCoy (qq.v.); artist, naturalist and geologist on the Victorian Exploring Expedition, led by Robert Burke and William Wills (qq.v.) 1860-61. Designed the prize medal for the Victorian Exhibition of 1854.

Events

1828 - 1848
Career position - Artist with Heinrich Ludwig Bronner in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
March 1851 - November 1852
Career position - Miniature painter, Van Diemen's Land
1852 - 1854
Life event - On the Bendigo goldfield, Victoria
1854
Career event - Designed the prize medal for the Victorian Exhibition
1856
Career position - Member of Council, Victorian Society of Fine Arts
1856 - 1857
Career position - Member of Council, Philosophical Institute of Victoria
1856 - 1859
Career position - Member, Philosophical Institute of Victoria
1859
Career position - Member of Council, Philosophical Institute of Victoria
1859 - 1861
Career position - Member, Royal Society of Victoria
August 1860 - April 1861
Career position - Artist, naturalist and geographer, Victorian Exploring Expedition

Related Corporate Bodies

Related Events

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Australian Botanists - Biographies, MS 064; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales

  • Ludwig Becker - Records, 1850 - 1855, ML MSS 999; Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection, State Library of New South Wales. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Ludwig Becker - Records, 1860, MS 1236; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Ludwig Becker - Records, 1860 - 1861; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Books

  • Becker, Ludwig; edited by Darragh, Thomas A, and Koehler, Manfred, Ludwig Becker: a letter from Australia (Bacchus Marsh (Vic.): Garravembi Press, 1993), 78 pp. Details
  • Edmond, Martin, The Supply Party: Ludwig Becker on the Burke and Wills Expedition (Adelaide: East Street Publications, 2009), 209 pp. Details
  • Tipping, Marjorie, Ludwig Becker : artist & naturalist with the Burke & Wills expedition (Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 1979), 224 pp. Details

Book Sections

Conference Papers

  • Darragh, Thomas A., 'Ludwig Becker as a Geologist', in Useful and Curious Geological Enquiries Beyond the World: Pacific-Asia Historical Themes: The 19th International INHIGEO Symposium, Sydney, Australia, 4-8 July, 1994 edited by D. F. Branagan and G. H. McNally (Sydney: International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences, 1994), pp. 192-199.. Details

Journal Articles

  • Becker, Ludwig, 'Native Zinc Embedded in Basalt', Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, 1 (1857), 156-158. Details
  • Darragh, Thomas A., 'Ludwig Becker, a Scientific Dilettante: His Correspondence with J.J. Kaup and Others'', Historical Records of Australian Science, 11 (4) (1997), 501-522. http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/HR9971140501.htm. Details
  • Dixson, W., 'Notes on Australian Artists', Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 9 (1923). Details
  • Kean, John and Carland, Rebecca, 'Natural Observations: the Artists of Frederick McCoy's Zoology of Victoria', Victorian Naturalist, 122 (2005), 366-75. Details
  • Maiden, J.H., 'Records of Victorian Botanists', Victorian Naturalist, 25 (1908), 101-117. Details
  • McLaren, I. F., 'The Victorian Exploring Expedition and Relieving Expeditions', Victorian Historical Magazine, 29 (1959). Details

Resources

Theses

  • Tipping, Marjorie, 'The life and work of Ludwig Becker (1808-1861) : with a critical analysis of his Australian oeuvre and an appreciation of his contribution to artistic and scientific developments in Victoria', MA thesis, University of Melbourne, 1978, 2 v. pp. Details

See also

McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn