Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

View More:


Study of dead lion for 'David's first victory'



William Strutt

England, Australia

03 Jul 1825 - 03 Jan 1915


This is a preparatory study for the painting 'David's first victory' 1868, in the Gallery's collection. Its subject is from 1 Samuel 17 in the Bible:

'And David said unto Saul, thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God'.

Strutt was well known for his studies of lions, made from both living and dead specimens at the London Zoo; the most famous painting made from these drawings is 'Sentinels of empire' 1901 in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart.

excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005


Other Title

Study of dead lion (Study for 'David's first victory')



Media category


Materials used

pencil, watercolour on ivory wove paper


17.8 x 25.5 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, pen and brown ink "William Strutt./ ...". Dated bot.c., pen and brown ink "... March 17th 1868.".


Purchased with funds provided by the Gil & Shay Docking Drawing Fund 2003


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Strutt

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Hendrik Kolenberg, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, 'Introduction', pg. 6-16, Sydney, 2005, 9, 54 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Australian images from the past: whether rarely seen or familiar, these works move and delight us', pg. 24-27, Sydney, Apr 2005, 27.