Ludwig Becker, artist, naturalist, scientist, was a member of the doomed Burke and Wills expedition of 1860-61 - one of the best equipped yet worst fated of explorations. The sophisticated, talented and always curious Becker would die beside an ephemeral creek in south west Queensland while his party was under siege from displaced and enraged Aborigines.
'He had lived an extraordinary life in Europe before coming to Australia. As court painter for the Archduke Ludwig III of Hesse-Darmstadt; as an archaeologist and a portraitist; and, controversially, as a member of the radical political group Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte, the Society for Human Rights, Becker participated in formative events leading up to the European Revolutions of 1848.
'A collector and a dilettante as well, Becker at various times owned a first edition of Martin Luther's Table Talk (1556), original artworks by Rembrandt, Raphael, Cranach and van Dyck, and was the man who recognised and rescued from oblivion a unique artefact - the death mask of Shakespeare.
'Becker's principal Australian legacy is his written and visual diary of the Burke and Wills expedition, which includes over seventy luminous artworks - half of them reproduced here - depicting this new and foreign environment with eloquence and sympathy.
'In The Supply Party author Martin Edmond follows Becker's path from Melbourne to Bulloo Creek, guiding the reader on a physical journey and an emotional quest through outback Australia in search of a man who, malnourished, bullied by Burke, harried by Aborigines and horribly injured, until the last continued to fulfil his official duties as artist and naturalist.' (Publisher's blurb)