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19th-century murals uncovered during home renovation in Australia

Home renovations have revealed one of only three sets of 19th-century murals known to exist in Australia. [Thx John!]

The mural was hidden for more than 100 years under seven layers of paint and three layers of wallpaper until Keith Sutton, the owner of the Victorian terrace it’s housed in, decided to renovate.

When he bought the dilapidated house in Petersham in 1997, he had no clue he was buying what is believed to be the only anti-Sudan War mural in Australia.

In 1999, when his friend Mike Mackay started stripping the paint and wallpaper from the living room walls, he was stunned to find a face.

”I didn’t believe him,” Mr Sutton said. ”I said ‘righto Mike, get off the ladder and have another beer’.”

The face was that of British General Charles Gordon, whose death during the fall of Khartoum is said to have prompted Australia to send its first troops to fight an overseas war, in 1885. Gordon’s was the first of 28 life-sized Indian ink and pencil images, many of them satirical and reflecting the politics of the day, including Ned Kelly, the premier and later prime minister George Reid, and governor Lord Augustus Loftus (holding a chicken, which referred to the eggs he used to sell to supplement his income). A copy of a Livingston Hopkins cartoon, published in The Bulletin on September 26, 1885, satirising the cost of the Sudan war was also uncovered.

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