William Simpson in Abyssinia

In 1868, the Illustrated London News dispatched the Scottish special artist, William Simpson (1823-1899) to cover the military campaign that was taking place in the east African country of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). While his remit was to record images of the army as it moved towards the capital of Magdala,  Simpson was rather more interested in the history and antiquities of the country and his diary entries and numerous of his sketches attest to this preoccupation.

New Pier at Annesley Bay 1868Burning camels AbyssiniaThe Military Collection has acquired from two dealers in England, a group of eight of Simpson’s original sketches dating from April and May 1868 and depicting various scenes.

Abyssinian PloughTwo prisoners AbyssiniaThis selection of pictures represents the new pier built at Annesley Bay to allow the unloading of supplies for the expedition, drawn on 25th March 1868 (top);  burning dead camels and mules in a pass; an Abyssinian plow; and the trial of two prisoners for looting commissariat stores, painted in April 1868 (bottom).

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