Fridtjof Nansen, born in 1861, was a Norwegian humanitarian and explorer known for creating the “Nansen Passport”, a certificate that was recognized by more than 52 countries which helped thousands of refugees to resettle in other countries. A man of many talents, Nansen was a champion cross-country skier who also excelled in the sciences, particularly Zoology. Fridtjof once led a team on a four and half month expedition to Greenland where he conducted intensive scientific studies and documented the seals and bears. In the process of the expedition, Nansen and his team completed the first crossing of Greenland. His later expeditions and research focused on the polar ice currents. He published six volumes of research and contributed innovations for equipment, clothing and travel techniques of polar regions.
In 1920, Nansen who had been Norwegian delegate was named as the president of the Norwegian Union for the League of Nations. The following year, the Council of the League of Nations in partnership with the International Red Cross established the High Commission for Refugees, asking Nansen to administer it for stateless refugees. Nansen then invented the “Nansen Passport” and utilized the methods of custodial care, repatriation, resettlement, emigration & integration to aid refugees. Nansen directed the relief efforts for millions of Russians during the famine of 1921 and gathered enough supplies to save an estimate of between 7 to 22 million people. Nansen would go on to aid in the relief of hundreds of thousands of displaced Greeks following a defeat by the Turkish army. Nansens final great humanitarian effort occurred in 1925 when he worked to save the remaining Armenian people from extinction by drawing up political, industrial and financial plans which would later influence the United Nations Technical Assistance Board and the International Bank of Development and Reconstruction post-WWII. Nansen’s International Office settled about 50,000 people in Erivan, Syria, and Lebanon. In recognition of his humanitarian work, Nansen was ultimately awarded The Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.
Illustration by Taylor Slyder
Fridtjof Nansen’s portrait was inspired by the decorative Norwegian painting style of Rosemaling. I wanted to create a modernized version of this style, using vibrant colors as a celebration of Nansen’s work and achievement with displaced victims of the First World War.
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Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy