Africa Collecting Europe: Patronage, Religious Material Culture and the Assertion of Local Power in Ethiopia, 1470–1530
manuscript to be submitted to an American UP in late 2021—early 2022
ca. 320 pages and 40 illustrations.
This monograph expands on the topics first explored in Medieval Ethiopian Kingship by investigating a wide body of material culture sources from Ethiopia – it investigates how, in the latter half of the 15th and early 16th century, Ethiopian elites fundamentally changed Ethiopian art by favouring a ‘new’ and hybrid style of painting that combined foreign iconographic and stylistic elements with Ethiopian visual traditions. It demonstrates how members of the royal court were involved in the direct import of foreign religious material culture, acquiring both dozens of post-Byzantine icons from the Eastern Mediterranean as well as a significant number of panel paintings that originated as far away late-medieval Flanders and Germany. Lastly, it shows how by the early 16th century, individual Solomonic royals engaged in the commissioning of prestige objects in Latin Europe, primarily painted enamels with Gǝʿǝz writing from Limoges in France or Northern Italy. The book is thus first to show the active involvement of a medieval African court within the same network of collecting and artistic exchanges long attested-to for Europe and parts of Asia.
Two articles related to the book project — a 'Catalogue of post-Byzantine Icons in Ethiopia prior to 1530' and a brief case study on the 'Role of the Solomonic Court in Local Artistic Production' — are currently in print and under review for publication.