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Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt, 1846

Charles Rodius

lithograph on paper (mount: 50.8 cm x 41.2 cm, image: 31.2 cm x 25.0 cm)

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Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt (1813 - c.1848), Prussian-born naturalist and explorer, arrived in Sydney in early 1842. He lectured on local geology and botany and explored between Newcastle and Moreton Bay before taking over a proposed expedition from Sydney to Port Essington (300km north of modern Darwin) in 1844. After fifteen months Leichhardt and six others made Port Essington and sailed home to Sydney, where he was dubbed the Prince of Explorers. The journey disclosed much prime pastoral land, winning Leichhardt the prize for the most important geographical discovery from the Geographical Society of Paris and a medal from its London counterpart. In March 1848, having explored more territory in Queensland, he set out from its Condamine River for Swan River in WA, but his party was lost as of 3 April 1848. Leichhardt collected many useful specimens and his diaries, notebooks, sketchbooks, letters, and published works are notable for their absence of exaggeration. Novelist Patrick White drew on aspects of Leichhardt's story for his novel Voss, one of the works for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Charles Rodius was born in Germany and went to England sometime before 1829, when he was convicted of stealing a lady’s handbag and transported to New South Wales for seven years. He was immediately employed as an architectural draughtsman and drawing teacher by the Department of Public Works, and also gave drawing lessons to children of prominent residents of Sydney. He attained his freedom in 1841, by which time he had completed two series of portraits of Aborigines, other portraits in chalk, pencil and oils, and a number of landscapes. A portrait of Leichhardt by Rodius was exhibited in the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia exhibition of 1857. Having enjoyed financial success, yet suffered a stroke and the deaths of two wives, Rodius died at the Liverpool Hospital three years later.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2004

Accession number: 2004.2

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Charles Rodius (age 44 in 1846)

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt (age 33 in 1846)

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