The Kosso Tree. Abyssinia

Description

In 1868, The Illustrated London News commissioned the Scottish artist William Simpson (1823–99) to cover a military campaign launched by Britain against Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia) to rescue several British officials and missionaries held by the Emperor Theodore (also called Tewodros II, ruled 1855–68). The commission was Simpson’s first major work for the Illustrated London News and the beginning of a long relationship with the paper that ended only with his death. Although Simpson’s primary task was to document the campaign, he was also interested in people he encountered and places he visited, especially ancient rock-cut churches and other antiquities. Shown here is Simpson’s watercolor sketch of two men by a large kosso tree. Then common in the Ethiopian highlands, the tree was held to have medicinal properties. The sketch is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.

Last updated: May 31, 2012