Battle of Adwa

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art   Photo credit: Museum of African Art (Permission pending)
950 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560

Unidentified artist   Oil on canvas       Gift of Joseph and Patricia Brumit

“On March 1 and 2, 1896, Ethiopian forces under Emperor Menelik II defeated the invading Italian army at the Battle of Adwa and thus prevented the imposition of colonial rule. Pride in this event reached beyond national borders; it became a symbol across Africa of resistance to colonial oppression. The Italian government’s formal recognition of the country was a blow to Italian pride and later contributed to Benito Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia during World War II…” (Smithsonian National Museum of African Art)

“Battle of Adwa, Adwa also spelled Adowa or Italian Adua, (March 1, 1896), military clash at Adwa, in north-central Ethiopia, between the Ethiopian army of Emperor Menilek II and Italian forces. The Ethiopian army’s victory checked Italy’s attempt to build an empire in Africa. The victory had further significance for being the first crushing defeat of a European power by African forces during the colonial era…” (Encyclopedia Britannica)


Battle of Adwa.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.,