Wilhelm J. Burger

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SMS Erzherzog Friedrich (1868)
CDV verso
Spitsbergen, by Burger, in 1872

Wilhelm J. Burger (1844–1920) was an Austrian photographer and painter, based in Vienna.

Burger learned photography from his uncle Andreas von Ettingshausen (1796–1878) in the 1860s. In 1874, Burger operated a photographic studio in Vienna. When working in French, Burger used the first initial "G.", obviously for "Guillaume". He took photographs in Japan around 1869, and accompanied the Wilczek expedition which was needed to prepare the Payer-Weyprecht polar expedition.

Burger died on 10 March 1920.

A fairly recent discovery has been made of photographs of Siam (Thailand) that were originally attributed to Wilhelm Burger (published in book form by Mr. Pipat Pongrapeeporn, 2001). These photographs (found in Europe as part of a private collection) were compared to photographs of the same era taken by the Thai court photographer Khun Sunthornsathitsalak (Christian name: Francis Chit). When these photos were lined up side-by-side, it was discovered that what many had considered individual photographs (taken by two different photographers) were actually part of a set meant to be combined to form a panoramic view.

The complete set of photographs (now correctly attributed to Francis Chit) are now back in Thailand and are illuminating a new generation of Thai and Western students, historians, and everyday people as to what Bangkok of the 1860s really looked like.

In a recent book on Austrian naval visits in Siam ("Auf den Spuren von Österreichs Marine in Siam"), published in June 2012, the author W. Donko concludes that not only these pictures, but a substantial part of the 1869 Siam photo collection attributed to Wilhelm Burger was in fact taken by the court photographer of the King of Siam, Mr. Francis Chit. Already 2011 Mr. T. Akiyoshi and P. Pantzer showed in an article published in the magazine „Photo Researcher Nr. 15/2011“ that Burger had also bought most of his 1869 photographs of Japan from local photo studios there. The background of Burgers’ 1869 photographs taken in China has not yet been analyzed in this regard.


Akiyoshi, Tani/ Pantzer, Peter: “Wilhelm Burger’s Photographs of Japan: New Attributions of his Glass Negative Collection in the Austrian National Library.” In: „Photo Researcher Nr. 15/2011“, published by the European Society for the History of Photography (ESHPh), Danube University Krems, Austria.

Donko, Wilhelm M.: "Auf den Spuren von Österreichs Marine in Siam (Thailand)", published by e-publi-GmbH, Berlin 2012 (p. 144-162).