26 March 2002
"BYRNE". With added inscription in ink, "After Hanging". Burman print of his own original.
After Joe Byrne's stiffened body was rescued from the burning hotel, it was taken to Benalla on the same train that carried the seriously wounded Ned Kelly. Ned and his dead lieutenant occupied adjacent cells in the Benalla lock-up overnight. Next morning, photographer Arthur Burman persuaded the police to hang Joe's body on the lock-up door so he could photograph it. He took two photos while his colleague, John Lindt, photographed him at work.
In this, the second and less-reproduced of his two photos, Burman has moved closer and exposed for the shadows on Joe's forward-tilted face. The left brow is slightly burnt, Joe's light moustache has been singed to a few wisps. He wears a light-coloured waistcoat over a striped crimean shirt and a crocheted scarf. A blue jacket - burnt or torn away, hangs in tatters from its sleeve on his left forearm. On the little finger of his left hand is a ring he took from Constable Scanlon after the gunfight at Stringeybark Creek. Joe probably fired the fatal shot at Scanlon.
An excellent print of a grim but remarkable image. Inexplicably, Burman did not lodge this photo for copyright on 5 July 1880 and did not include it in the "Kelly Tragedies" series he produced with Oswald Madeley.
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