Sigfús Eymundsson was the first commercially successful photographer in Iceland.
Published in the 2013 August-September issue of Iceland Review – IR 04.13. By Páll Stefánsson.Gullfoss around 1880, the first known photograph of the waterfall.
Sigfús Eymundsson became Iceland’s leading photographer upon his return to the country in 1866 after having studied first bookbinding in Copenhagen, Denmark, then photography in Bergen, Norway. Born in 1837 on a small farm in Vopnafjörður, East Iceland, Sigfús lived in Reykjavík until his death in 1911.Sigfús’ status as Iceland’s leading photographer in the latter half of the 19th century is indisputable. His images were one factor in nurturing a positive self-image among Icelanders in their fight for sovereignty, leading to home rule in 1904, a status of sovereignty in 1918, and ultimately independence in 1944.
Sigfús’ photography is also closely linked to the development of tourism in Iceland—he took pictures of all the principal tourist destinations in the country, and he is believed to have organized the first tours to Gullfoss waterfall for foreign sightseers.
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