Burke and Wills in the Desert

David Boyd

Burke and Wills in the Desert by David Boyd


David Boyd
Burke and Wills in the Desert
oil on composition board
77. x 112.5 cm

signed lower left: David Boyd

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private collection, South Australia


Nancy Benko, The Art of David Boyd, A Lidmus Publication, Adelaide, 1973, p.28, col.illus. p. 21

Further Information

This major painting from David Boyd’s The Explorer series, one of eight that he painted, depicts the tragic story of the British explorers’ journey into the Australian centre. With distinctive verve Boyd makes serious use of this tale, but as with much of his work he embellishes the composition with an allegorical, often biblical resonance, which results in a pictorial intensity counterbalanced by a sense of subdued mockery. The strange bird descending on Burke and Wills dire state of starvation at Coopers Creek, is more akin to an exotic creature from Lewis Carroll’s story The Hunting of the Snark, a rooster-like harbinger of peril rather than a bird of paradise, but its presence nevertheless unifies the picture.

Extract from the catalogue essay by Dr Sheridan Palmer, 2017.

Copyright Lucinda Boyd.