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Australian art

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David's first victory



William Strutt

England, Australia

03 Jul 1825 - 03 Jan 1915


William Strutt was one of the first artists in Australia to produce large-scale history paintings. He also painted religious subjects, exhibiting these works regularly at the Royal Academy after his return to England.

A fine example of the latter, 'David’s first victory' portrays the biblical hero triumphant over the dead lion and bear, while bleating sheep and goats express their gratitude. Composed according to academic conventions, David stands at the apex of a triangle, its base formed by the lion’s body. Various studies were made for this painting, including a sketch of a lion and a bear made at the London Zoo in 1868.

The painting’s conservation and new frame were generously supported by Hyperion Asset Management 2010–11.


Place where the work was made

United Kingdom



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


203.5 x 111.7 cm stretcher; 229.0 x 137.0 x 6.7 cm frame :

SUPPORT, x x, stretcher dimensions

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., "W. Strutt 1868".


Purchased 1974


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Strutt

Works in the collection



Where the work was made
United Kingdom

Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 11 publications


Clune Galleries, A selection of paintings and prints (1974), Sydney, 1974, (colour illus.).

Heather Curnow, William Strutt, 'England 1862-1915', pg. 46-60, Australia, 1980, 50, 70, 71 (illus.), 107. 12

Heather Curnow, The life & art of William Strutt, 1825-1915, 'English trends', pg. 55-72, Martinborough, 1980, 37, 39, 56, 57, 59, 76, 144, 194 (illus.). 45

Cedric Flower (Compilator), Erotica: aspects of the erotic in Australian art, South Melbourne, 1977, 12, 21 (illus.).

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales catalogue of British paintings, Sydney, 1987, 193 (illus.).

Renée Free and Rose Peel, Dreams and realities: Victorian works on paper, Sydney, 1993, 2.

Terry Ingram., The Australian financial review, 'A rare body of work', Sydney, 07 Nov 2002, 65. Work mentioned in relation to another Strutt painting titled 'David's first victory' to go up for auction at Christie's sale on November 26, 2002.

Anne Kirker and Peter Tomory, British painting 1800–1990 in Australian and New Zealand public collections, Sydney, 1997, 166. 2116

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

Smith & Singer, Important paintings from the collection of John Schaeffer A.O., Sydney, 25 August 2003, Sydney, 2003, 14. lot no. 5; another version of the AGNSW's 'David's first victory' is reproduced in colour and was auctioned through Sotheby's Sydney, on 25 August 2003 as part of the John Schaeffer collection.

Daniel Thomas AM, Australian art in the 1870s, 'Introduction', pg.4-6, Sydney, 1976, 16, 51 (illus.). 12