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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

William Lanne, c. 1866

Charles Woolley and J.W. Beattie (printer)

albumen silver photograph (sheet: 27.0 cm x 21.2 cm)

William Lanne (ca. 1835-1869), also known as King Billy or William Laney, is said to have been Trukanini's third partner. Lanne was captured along with his family in 1842 and taken to the Aboriginal camp at Wybelenna on Flinders Island. He moved for a time to Oyster Cove in 1847, before spending the years until 1851 in a Hobart orphanage. Four years later he joined a whaling ship. Regarded as the last surviving male of the Oyster Cove clan, Lanne died in March 1869 from a combination of cholera and dysentery. Following his death an argument broke out between England's Royal College of Surgeons and Tasmania's Royal Society over who should have his remains for scientific purposes. A member of the College of Surgeons, William Crowther, managed to break into the morgue where Lanne's body was kept, decapitating the corpse, removing the skin and inserting a skull from a white body into the remnants. The Royal Society, discovering Crowther's work, moved to thwart any further violations by amputating the hands and feet and discarding them separately. In this state, Lanne's body was buried.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by
Allanah Dopson & Nicholas Heyward 2009

Accession number: 2009.5

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Charles Woolley (age 32 in 1866)

J.W. Beattie (age 7 in 1866)

William Lanne (age 32 in 1866)

Subject professions

Indigenous identity

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.