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Troedel, Johannes Theodor Charles (1836–1906)

by Clive Turnbull

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Johannes Theodor Charles Troedel (1836-1906), lithographic printer, was born at Hamburg, Germany, son of Carl Auguste Troedel (Trödel) and his wife Maria, née Buck. Apprenticed to his father in Denmark, at 23 he went for further experience to Norway, where he came to the notice of A. W. Schuhkrafft, a Melbourne printer who was visiting Europe seeking craftsmen; he engaged Troedel and Robert Wendel, a brilliant lithographic artist and draftsman. They arrived in Melbourne in the Great Britain on 5 February 1860 and served Schuhkrafft for a three-year term.

In 1863 Troedel rented a very small shop in Collins Street and set up on his own account. On a press brought from Europe (and still preserved) he produced The Melbourne Album, employing various artists, notably the otherwise-unknown F. Cogné. Wendel did much admirable work for Troedel; the best was probably his magnificent coloured plates, many from drawings by Baldwin Spencer, which illustrate the zoological section of Spencer's Report on … the Horn Expedition to Central Australia (1896).

Aged 32, Troedel was naturalized on 19 March 1869. He had turned 33 when he married Julia Sarah Glover, daughter of a contractor, on 29 June at St Paul's Church of England, Melbourne; they had five sons and three daughters. He was a member of the Victorian Master Printers' Association from the early 1880s and was a member of the wages board for the printing industry about 1900. A prominent figure in musical and artistic circles, he was associated with many distinguished people, including Nicholas Chevalier who worked on his lithographic stones, and young Arthur Streeton who was apprenticed to Troedel when he was 'discovered' by Tom Roberts and Fred McCubbin; Streeton had his indentures cancelled, and looked back on Troedel with affection. Other painters associated with his firm were Blamire Young, Charles Wheeler, Lionel Lindsay and Percy Leason. Randolph Bedford, for whom Troedel printed, remembered him as 'a charming old man'.

By 1877 he was trading in Sydney as C. Troedel & Co.; in 1891 he formed a partnership in Sydney with Edward Cooper, who had joined him at 13, but Cooper soon returned to the Melbourne business. Troedel died of cancer on 31 October 1906 at St Kilda Road, Prahran, survived by his wife, two daughters and four sons, of whom Walter, Rudolph and Ferdinand joined their father's business. His estate was valued for probate at £8044. Although not the first of Melbourne's lithographers, Troedel was the most distinguished, and the work produced under his direction is of the highest quality, ranging from the twenty-four prints of the Victorian scene in the Album through a very large range of theatrical and other posters, labels and book illustrations. In 1968 the firm of Troedel & Cooper Ltd (formed in 1910) presented to the Library Council of Victoria its remarkable collection of lithographs of all kinds; now housed in the La Trobe Library, they are a social record of great value.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Bedford, Naught to Thirty-Three (Syd, 1944)
  • C. Troedel, The Melbourne Album, C. Turnbull ed (Melb, 1961)
  • Troedel collection exhibition notes (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

Clive Turnbull, 'Troedel, Johannes Theodor Charles (1836–1906)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/troedel-johannes-theodor-charles-4749/text7889, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 23 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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