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Edward Payton photographs, etchings and sketchbooks

Identifier: MSS-Archives-FA 2013/02

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection consists of photographic prints taken in the early 1900s by Edward Payton. The photographs are mainly of landscapes taken by Payton during his travels around Aotearoa New Zealand, but there are also photographs of Māori, Pākehā settlers, pā sites and settlements. The collection also contains etchings by Payton and photocopies from his sketchbooks.

The collection includes sepia-toned and black and white images in a variety of print sizes.


  • 1880 - 1915


Biographical / Historical

Edward William Payton was a painter, printmaker and photographer, born in Solihull, Warwickshire, England on 21 May 1859.

After studying at the Municipal School of Art Birmingham, Payton travelled to Australia in 1882 before settling in Aotearoa New Zealand, in 1883. He accompanied photographer Alfred Burton on journeys through the King Country and up the Whanganui River in 1885.

Payton's work was first exhibited in 1887 at Auckland Art Gallery and he published Round About New Zealand, from his diaries and sketches of his travels around Aotearoa, in 1888.

Returning to England for a short time, Payton qualified as an art teacher at South Kensington School of Art in London. On his return to Aotearoa New Zealand, Payton became the first principal of the Elam School of Fine Arts from its foundation in 1890 until his retirement in 1924. In 1930 he was responsible for purchasing paintings and prints from Europe for the Auckland Art Gallery’s Mackelvie Collection.

Payton lived at 34 Portland Road, Remuera (built c.1887), retiring to Rotorua in his later years. He was married to Emily Woolnough (c1857-1920), with whom he had two daughters - Sybil Emily Payton (1889-1978) and Edith Muriel Woolnough Payton (1892-1960). Payton never remarried and died in Tauranga on October 2, 1944.


2 metres (6 boxes, 3 outsize boxes, 2 outsize folders. )

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Anthea Gordon via John B. Turner in 1989.

Existence and Location of Originals

Payton's original sketchbooks are still held by family members.

Related Materials

University of Auckland Library art ephemera collection, MSS-Archives-FA 2017/02, inlcudes a file on Edward payton and an extensive collection of photographs by Payton are held by the Rotorua Museum - Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa.

Inventory of Edward Payton's photographs, etchings and sketchbooks
In Progress
Helena Lunt
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Fine Arts Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand