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Home > View & Discuss > Virginia Dahlenburg on 'Black Thursday, February 6th, 1851'

Virginia Dahlenburg on 'Black Thursday, February 6th, 1851'

Speaker(s): Virginia Dahlenburg and Hamish Curry

  • Date recorded: 11 Feb 2011

  • Duration: 29:18

'It was a stampede for life; animals, flocks of birds amidst the flying sparks and in the stifling smoke, dropped dead from terror and exhaustion.'

- Virginia Dahlenburg

About this video

Black Thursday, February 6th, 1851 by William Strutt is a dramatic painting that depicts the terror and flight as people and animals tried to escape one of the worst bushfires in Victoria’s history.

Join senior conservator of paintings Virginia Dahlenburg to learn about a style of art known as the ‘Apocalyptic Sublime’.

Listen to dramatic excerpts from a letter by artist William Strutt that describes the terrifying day when temperatures soared to a scorching 47.2 degrees Celsius.

Discover how the painting resonates with recent accounts of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria. 


Virginia Dahlenburg is the Senior conservator, paintings at the State Library Victoria, and is a recipient of the Gordon Darling Fellowship.

Virginia is interviewed by Hamish Curry, Library and online learning Manager at the State Library of Victoria.