Julius Von Payer (1842-1915)

E. Otto Höhn


Julius von Payer was born near Teplitz in Bohemia. ... Due to his expertise on alpine glaciers, he was invited to join the German Polar Expedition of 1869-70, which worked in "new" areas in northeast Greenland. ... Payer and his friend naval Lieutenant Weyprecht thought that the area between Spitsbergen and Novaya Zemlya might offer a relatively ice-free zone to the north. Financed by Count Wylzeck, they chartered a small sailing vessel and during a favourable period in 1871 made a preliminary expedition in the area, reaching a maximal northern latitude of 78.5. Their next and last polar expedition, 1872-74, led to what might be called the "accidental" discovery of an archipelago of islands that they named Franz Josef Land, after their emperor. ... In September 1872 the [motorized sailing ship] Tegetthoff became ice bound and drifted northward over an irregular course. In August 1873 the southernmost island of Franz Josef Land was seen but could not be reached until October of the same year. Lieutenant Weyprecht commanded the ship and Payer led the sled expeditions that in early 1874 discovered the central portion of the island archipelago. ... Payer's sledge parties covered about 800 km, the northernmost point being 81 51 N. ... Their ship was still ice bound when the sledge parties returned. Some members of the expedition had died, including an old Norwegian whaling captain. In May, an expedition with sleds and three 60-m boats struck out for the depot left in 1871 on the island of Novaya Zemlya. Progress over the snow-covered ice was so slow that after eight days the leaders decided to await the breakup of the ice. It was mid-August before they were able to row and sail southward, covering the 300 km to Novaya Zemlya. Because of the land ice on the west coast of the island, they were unable to get to their depot and had to sail and row almost to its southern extremity before they were picked up by a Russian fishing vessel on 24 August 1874. ... Payer was not only an alpinist and explorer but also an artist. His book is illustrated with many drawings, two of which are reproduced here. Payer also made water-colour sketches in the Arctic. On his return from the North, Payer lived as a civilian in Paris until 1890, where he studied art. He then returned to Vienna and opened his own school of painting. He painted arctic landscapes based on sketches he had made during his expeditions. These were well received at several important exhibitions and he was, in fact, the first artist to depict the Arctic in colours. He died in Vienna in 1915.


von Payer, Julius, 1842-1915; Art; Artists; Biographies; Expeditions; Explorers; German North Pole Expedition, 1869-1870; History; Barents Sea; Frantsa-Iosifa, Zemlya, Russian Federation; Novaya Zemlya, Russian Federation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic1534

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