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15 October 2010

Gaze upon the Battle of Adwa

Painted by an unknown artist in the 1940s, the Ethiopian painting of the Battle of Adwa, fought between Ethiopia and Italy on 2 March 1896, is a particular highlight of any visit to the British Museum for your author.

In it, Ethiopian forces fight to victory over the better-equipped Italians force, backed by Emperor Menelik II and his wife Empress Taytu. Overhead, St George, the Ethiopian patron saint, looks on.

Without knowledge of the complex geo-political factors that were in play, which your author cannot recall from GCSE history, it's not worth taking sides, but it is certainly interesting to see such a battle painted from a victorious African perspective, given such a large proportion of the continent was under colonial rule at the time.

For more background, and a much better picture, see here.


  1. This is a fantastic painting. I remember it well from a lunchtime visit to the museum (I used to work next door) and it has stuck with me since.

    Sadly, the tide of colonialism turned against the Ethiopians, culminating in Haile Selassie's damning speech to the League of Nations after they stood by while Mussolini invaded.

  2. Thanks Chaz. Very interesting comment.