Abyssinian Plough


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 April 1868 depiction of an Abyssinian man plowing with a pair of oxen. The sketch is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.

Last updated: May 31, 2012