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Photographs of the Abyssinian Campaign.

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Physical Description:
1 album (78 photographic prints) : albumen ; 21 x 28 cm, and smaller.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
Folio A 2010 72
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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In the Abyssinian Campaign of 1867-1868, Great Britain dispatched a force of 16,000 men, led by Sir Robert Napier, to cross over 400 miles of mountainous country (in present-day Ethiopia) to take the Emperor's fortress at Magdala and free British captives. To document the campaign for the British public, the Royal Engineers sent two sets of photographic equipment to Abyssinia--each weighing 1300 pounds--though only one was actually used. The photographic endeavor was supervised in the field by Sergeant John Harrold and six assistants. Harrold's team arrived at Annesley Bay on 5 December 1867, and was attached to the 10th Company Royal Engineers. It is not known how many photographs were made in total, but sets of 78 albumen prints were eventually chosen and supplied to select military officers, government officials, and public institutions. Issued with the 78 prints was a letterpress "List of negatives," which could be cut up and used as captions. The set of photographs comprises the earliest surviving body of work by photographers sent to accompany a full-scale military operation.
The photographers worked under considerable difficulties thrown up by the climate and terrain, but produced a fine record within the parameters of the period. According to Frederic A. Scharf, "their primary responsibility was to photograph topographical drawings, surveying charts, and maps in order to make multiple copies of them for commanders in the field." The photographs focus on British forces and the wild landscapes of Abysinnia. As noted by James R. Ryan, this selection rendered "Abyssinia's indigenous inhabitants virtually invisible ... The Abyssinian Campaign was thus collectively presented as a war waged against nature" (Picturing empire, p. 92-93).
Binding: The photographs are mounted in a contemporary green half morocco album, with title label: "Abyssinia". Ink stamp of "R. Ackermann, 191 Regent Street" on front pastedown.
Ryan, J.R. Picturing empire, p. 73-98
Sharf, F.A. Abyssinia, 1867-1868: artists on campaign, p. 96
Album of 78 albumen prints documenting the British Abysinnian Expedition of 1867-1868. The photographs were executed by a team of seven photographers attached to the 10th Company Royal Engineers, led by Sergeant John Harrold. The sets of 78 photographs were supplied to select military officers, government officials, and public institutions, together with three pages of letterpress captions. The captions in the present copy are cut up and affixed to the page bearing the relevant photograph. The collection is the earliest surviving body of work by photographers sent to accompany a full-scale military operation.
A small portion of the photographs have been mounted end-to-end to form wide panoramas; these include three groups of three and two groups of two. The subjects include 37 views and military scenes, 13 group portraits, 5 photographs of Coptic manuscripts and other artifacts, and 10 reproductions of paintings or drawings by Major Robert Baigrie, Richard Rivington Holmes, and William Simpson.
The present copy is accompanied by a number of loosely inserted items, which are now housed separately. All appear to date to the late 19th century. These comprise: Folder 1. A brief autograph note, signed, by Sir Robert Napier -- 2. Nine modern photographic copies of lithographic plates of "Abyssinian Equipment" issued by the Royal Carriage Department -- 3. A small etching, after Tristram Ellis -- 4. Black and white photographs of "Juliet" and "Portia", each within a chromolithographed border, from an unidentified source -- 5. Photographic portrait of an unidentified woman, signed Bullingham -- 6. A lithographed broadside titled "Nuggur races!" -- 7. Nine albumen prints depicting country homes, presumably in England -- 8. A list of historic places & monuments in England, in pen and ink.
Subject Terms:
Abyssinian Expedition (1867-1868) -- Pictorial works.
Āmba Maryam (Ethiopia) -- Pictorial works.
Baigrie, Robert, 1829-1877.
Ellis, Tristram J.
Ethiopia -- History -- 1490-1889 -- Pictorial works.
Great Britain. Army -- Pictorial works.
Harrold, John, Sergeant.
Holmes, Richard R. (Richard Rivington), 1835-1911.
Magdala, Battle of, Āmba Maryam, Ethiopia, 1868 -- Pictorial works.
Napier, Robert Cornelis, 1810-1890 -- Portraits.
Simpson, William, 1823-1899.
Speedy, Tristram Charles Sawyer -- Portraits.
Theodore II, Negus of Ethiopia, -1868 -- Portraits.
Albumen prints.
Photograph albums.
Photographic prints.
Panoramic photographs.
Baigrie, Robert, 1829-1877, artist.
Harrold, John, Sergeant, photographer.
Holmes, Richard R. (Richard Rivington), 1835-1911, artist.
Simpson, William, 1823-1899, artist.
Great Britain. Army. Royal Engineers. Company, 10th.
IIIF Manifest:

  • 1-3. Panoramic view, Annesley Bay
  • 4-6. Panoramic view, Zoulla camp
  • 7. Devil's Staircase, (Sooroo)
  • 8-10. Panoramic view, Senafe
  • 11. Rock at Goon-Goona and naval brigade
  • 12. Waterfall at Goon-Goona
  • 13. Goon-Goona Church (sketched by Mr. Holmes)
  • 14. Debra-Damo (sketched by Mr. Holmes)
  • 15. Focada camp and rock
  • 16. Focada church
  • 17. Addigerat tower
  • 18. Addigerat church
  • 19. Addigerat camp, after thunder storm
  • 20. Martello tower, near Adabaga
  • 21. Martello tower, near Adabaga (sketched by Mr. Holmes)
  • 22. Brick fortress, near Adabaga
  • 23. Antalo village
  • 24. Antalo church
  • 25. Valley of Meshek
  • 26. Alagi Amba, near Attala
  • 27. Bolago camp
  • 28-29. Panoramic view of mountain at Bolago
  • 30. Ashangi Lake
  • 31. Village on hill, near Ashangi
  • 32. Tellari River, near Dildee
  • 33. Tacazzee River
  • 34. Djedda River
  • 35. Ascent of Djedda (sketched by Mr. Simpson)
  • 36. View of north scarp of Djedda
  • 37. Upper scarp of north bank of Bashelo River
  • 38. Selassee and Fahla (sketched by Major Bagrie)
  • 39. Exterior of Magdala
  • 40. Magdala (sketched by Major. Bagrie)
  • 41-42. Panoramic view of Kokit-Bur Gate, Magdala
  • 43. King Theodore's house, Magdala
  • 44. Treasury and mint, Magdala
  • 45. Church showing Theodore's grave, Magdala
  • 46. Interior of Magdala, showing the Selasee in distance
  • 47. Kafir-Bur Gate, Magdala (exit)
  • 48. Magdala in flames (sketched by Major Bagrie)
  • 49. Sir R. Napier and staff.
  • 50. Sir C. Staveley and staff
  • 51. Brigadier-General Schneider and staff
  • 52. Dr. Currie and medical staff
  • 53. Kassa's prime minister and followers
  • 54. Queen of the Gallas and son
  • 55. G. Battery, 14th Brigade, Royal Artillery, & troops at Durbagh
  • 56. Son and heir of King Theodore
  • 57. Captain Speedy
  • 58. Released prisoners (Europeans)
  • 59. Released prisoners (missionaries)
  • 60. Released prisoners (Theodore's artisans and their wives)
  • 61. Colonel Penny's battery, Royal Artillery
  • 62. 4th, King's own regiment
  • 63. Belooch Regiment
  • 64. Abysinnian fiddler
  • 65. General Petrie and staff
  • 66. King Theodore, after death (sketched by Mr. Holmes)
  • 67. Prince Kassa (sketched by Mr. Simpson)
  • 68. Abyssinian cross
  • 69. Abyssinian Bible (St. George and St. Theodore)
  • 70. Abyssinian Bible (The Virgin and crucifixion)
  • 71. Abyssinian Bible (Portion of St. Mark)
  • 72. Abyssinian Bible (Portion of St. Mark)
  • 73. Sir R. Napier and officers of Royal Engineers
  • 74. Theodore's son (Sketched by Mr. Simpson)
  • Supplementary negatives: 75. Funeral procession of Lieut. Morgan, R.E.
  • 76. Grave of Lieut. Morgan, R.E.
  • 77. Graves of Col. Dunn, 33rd Regt., and Lieut. Bayly, 45th Regt.
  • 78. The 10th Company, Royal Engineers, in Camp Upper "Sooroo."

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