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German (1808-1861)

Ludwig Becker [picture]
F. Schoenfeld, c. 1810-1860.
H84.273/2, State Library of Victoria

Becker was born on 5 September 1808 at Offenbach-am-Main near Darmstadt, Germany.


Becker wrote widely on scientific subjects and illustrated various works by Mueller, McCoy and others. He worked as lithographer in 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 10th 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. Designed the prize medal for the Victorian Exhibition of 1854.

He was appointed to the VEE at an Ordinary meeting of the Exploration Committee held on Friday, 13 July 1860, as Artist and Naturalist and Geographer on a salary of £300 per annum.

On the 18 August 1860, Brahe signed the Memorandum of Agreement at the Royal Society of Victoria.

He died on 29 April 1861 at Koorliatto Waterhole, Bulloo Downs.

At an ordinary meeting of the Royal Society of Victoria in Melbourne, held on Monday, 8 July 1861, Dr Mueller moved:

That this meeting records its profound grief in the great loss sustained by the Society in the death of Dr Ludwig Becker, one of its earliest, most enthusiastic, ingenuous, and self-denying members, who with three of his companions, Messrs Patten, Stone and Purcell, sank on the field of honour: and that this meeting manifests its deepest solicitude for the safety and success of Mr Burke, Mr Wills and their brave companions: and that the Royal Society expresses its gratful recognition hiterto rendered by Mr Wright and all the members of the expedition and award its special thanks to Mr Brahe for his admirable maintenance of the depot at Cooper's Creek under most trying circumstances, and for his readiness to co-operate with Mr Howitt in the arduous task of affording relief to the Victorian Expedition.

Sir Henry Barkly's 1862 Presidential Address tot he Royal Society, held on 28 April 1862, mentioned the recent death of Albert, Prince Consort, then said:

Having struck so mournful a chord at starting, I am led to a loss nearer home — to a vacancy in our own ranks, humbler far, yet not the less acutely perceptible within our limited circle. I am aware that the anniversary addresses from this chair have not hitherto been prefaced by the necrology of deceased members, so customary on similar occasions in the learned societies of Europe. Our origin is too recent, our numbers too small, the scientific reputation of the greater part of our members too inconsiderable, to render such a practice expedient ; but you will bear with me, I know, while making an exception in favour of one of our earliest and most indefatigable contributors, Dr Ludwig Becker — the more especially as he fell a victim to the cause of scientific exploration, which this Society has ever had so much at heart.

It was not his, indeed, to take part, as he so ardently desired, in the great exploit which has covered our land with so much grief and so much glory, the first crossing of the Australian Continent from sea to sea. Like many another brave man, he was fated but to form one of the baggage- guard whilst the victory was being won. But whenever -the history of the Burke and Wills Expedition is written, the name of Ludwig Becker will, like theirs, rank with those of Cunningham, Kennedy, Leichhardt, and the rest of that noble band who have sacrificed their lives in the cause of science, and for the benefit of the generations yet unborn that shall inhabit this vast continent.

Where Becker went on the expedition

Additional research resources


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Books on Becker in a Library near you:

Marjorie Tipping, 1979.
Ludwig Becker : artist & naturalist with the Burke & Wills expedition
Carlton: Melbourne University Press on behalf of the Library Council of Victoria.
ISBN: 0522841899
Description: xiii, 224 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 31 cm.
Contents: Includes water-colours and drawings by the artist.
Ludwig Becker; Thomas A Darragh; Manfred Kohler, 1993.
A letter from Australia
Bacchus Marsh, Vic: Garravembi Press.
ISBN: 1875486089
Reproductions of drawings and other ill. glued onto blank pages. Errata slip tipped in. Ed.
Description: xxxviii, 75 p. : ill. ; 20 cm.
Ludwig Becker, 1984.
An Australian song : Ludwig Becker's protest
Richmond, Vic.: Greenhouse.
ISBN: 0909104719
Translation of: Ein Australisch Lied. 135 p. : ill., facsims. (some col.) ; 24 cm.
Martin Edmond, 2009.
The supply party
Adelaide: East Street Publications.
ISBN: 9781921037269
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