An intrepid explorer, Baines spent much of the rest of his life travelling throughout southern Africa and died in Durban in 1875, having undertaken numerous expeditions across the continent. Though he never visited Ethiopia he produced a number of paintings on Abyssinian subjects, including Elephant Hunting with the sword, Abyssinia (1867, King’s Lynn Museum, Norfolk). His interest in the region was sparked by the kidnapping of the British Consul in Ethiopia, Charles Duncan Cameron, by Emperor Tewodros II, and the subsequent British Expedition to Abyssinia, under the command of Sir Robert Napier, in 1868; the same year as this painting. During his last days in England he produced a series of paintings about the campaign to illustrate a lecture he gave on Abyssinia at the London Polytechnic, including Troops ascending a ravine from Annesley Bay in Abyssinia (1868) and Devra Damo with the procession of the heir to the throne of Abyssinia (1867, both Gubbins Africana Library, Johannesburg). Baines’ knowledge of the topography and culture of the country was drawn from research in the British Museum, particularly the maps and accounts found in Henry Salt’s 1814 Voyage to Abyssinia, combined with his first-hand experience of the awe inspiring geography of Africa and the exotic customs of its peoples.
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