On March 1 and 2, 1896, Ethiopian forces under Emperor Menelik II defeated the invading Italian army at the Battle of Adwa and thus prevented the imposition of colonial rule. Pride in this event reached beyond national borders; it became a symbol across Africa of resistance to colonial oppression. The Italian government's formal recognition of the country was a blow to Italian pride and later contributed to Benito Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia during World War II.
Opposing diagonal lines suggest intense activity on the battlefield. This unsigned work emphasizes decorative patterns and has taken artistic license with the number of flags and participating local Ethiopian rulers, the arrangement of figures and the inclusion of St. George riding a white horse.
Rectilinear oil on canvas depicting a battle waged between Ethiopian and Italian forces.
Joseph and Patricia Brumit, Sun City West, 1968 to 2004
African Mosaic: Selections from the Permanent Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2013-ongoing
African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 2010-November 13, 2013
National Museum of African Art. 2010. African Mosaic: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting. Exhibition card. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, no. 8 (detail).