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Art Diary

Ethiopia at the Crossroads

24 November 2023

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore is presenting the first major exhibition in the United States to explore the artistic and cultural traditions of Ethiopia (3 December–3 March 2024). The show spans 1,750 years of Ethiopian history, as seen through some 220 objects drawn from the Walters’ world-renowned collection of Ethiopian art and international loans. These include coins minted by generations of Aksumite rulers, textiles used for manuscript bindings and garments, and early illuminated manuscripts. Among the highlights are Christian icons, wall paintings and processional crosses created during the reign of Emperor Zar’a Ya’qob (r. 1434–68), such as Diptych with Mary and her Son Flanked by Archangels, Apostles and a Saint by a follower of Fre Seyon, which show the influence of religious paintings from Europe, while contemporary works demonstrate how traditional Ethiopian craftsmanship is being adapted by a new generation. Find out more on the Walters Art Museum’s website.

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Tightrope (2021), Elias Sime. Private collection. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle; courtesy the artist and James Cohan, NY

The Virgin and Child with Archangels, Scenes from the Life of Christ and Saints (early 17th century), Ethiopian. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Processional cross (15th century), Ethiopia. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Diptych with Mary and her Son Flanked by Archangels, Apostles and a Saint (late 15th century), follower of Fre Seyon. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore