Walter Mittelholzer Revisited

Walter Mittelholzer Revisited

From the Walter Mittelholzer Photo Archive

Foreign places from the air and on the ground: the photography and media activity of the famous Swiss aviator-photographer Walter Mittelholzer (1894-1937) revaluated.



Title Information

Kaspar Surber. Edited by Michael Gasser and Nicole Graf

1st edition

, 2017

Text English and German


192 pages, 47 color and 158 b/w illustrations

20 x 26 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-543-9

Pictorial Worlds: Photographs from the Image archive, ETH-Bibliothek, Vol. 6


Walter Mittelholzer (1894–1937) was a pioneering aviator and cofounder of Switzerland’s legendary airline Swissair. From his earliest flights, he was also an avid aerial photographer, and his spectacular views of the Swiss Alps have been popular ever since he began publishing them in the 1920s. Mittelholzer also participated in expeditions to more distant locations, supporting his activities by selling photographs and receiving donations from patrons. Today, the Mittelholzer archive is part of the vast image archive at ETH Bibliothek, the main library at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich).

The sixth volume in Scheidegger & Spiess’s Pictorial Worlds series, Walter Mittelholzer Revisited reproduces two hundred of the most striking and historically significant photographs from the archive. Together, the photographs document Mittelholzer’s extensive travels, including trips to what is today Iran, Ethiopia, and the Svalbard Islands of northern Norway, as well as his 1926–7 trip to Africa on the seaplane Switzerland, which made Mittelholzer a household name both in aviation and photography. Rounding out the book is an essay that revisits Mittelholzer’s activities from a contemporary perspective, with a focus on the issue of colonialism and his patronizing view of Africa and its peoples and cultures. The book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of photography.


Also available in the series Pictorial Worlds: Photographs from the Image Archive, ETH-Bibliothek:

The World in Pocket-size Format

Swissair Souvenirs

Science in Sight

Swissair Aerial Photographs

Photo Mosaic Switzerland

Authors & Editors

Michael Gasser

 is head of the archives at ETH-Bibliothek in Zürich.

Nicole Graf

 is head of the Image Archive, ETH-Bibliothek in Zürich.

Kaspar Surber

 is a scholar of history and an editor with Zurich-based weekly newspaper Wochenzeitung WOZ.


„Mittelholzer‘s sometimes controversial images offer an unparalleled aerial perspective on the Middle East and Africa in the early 20th century.“ Francesca Street, CNN Travel