national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, August 30, 2015


(Ethiopian, The Court of Emperor Tewedros II, paint on fabric)

The Tatham Art Gallery’s current exhibition, The Art of Democracy: Twenty Years of Collecting, will close on September 6 at 17h00 and will reopen in December. A selection of art works from the permanent collection acquired and/or accessioned since 1994 is displayed in all areas of the Gallery. These art works are identified by coloured labels.

This painting on fabric by an unknown Ethiopian artist has been in the Gallery for many years, but was only accessioned into the Permanent Collection in 2007. Traditional Ethiopian paintings used a narrative format, often biblical stories portrayed clearly and simply to inform illiterate people of their traditions and heritage. A similar style is used in this painting which depicts the court of Emperor Tewedros (Theodore) II, who reigned from 1855 to 1868. The Emperor is surrounded by his court, messengers and scribes. Onlookers watch various tortures meted out to rebels: hanging, burning, tongue cutting, forehead bashing, and stoning.

Tewedros committed suicide rather than acknowledging defeat when a British expeditionary force stormed his fortress at Magdala in central Ethiopia to free British diplomats he had taken hostage.

The Art of Democracy: Twenty Years of Collecting will reopen on December 11 at 10h00.

The Tatham Art Gallery is situated opposite the Town Hall in Chief Albert Luthuli Street, Pietermaritzburg. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10h00 to 17h00. Café Tatham is open on Saturdays. Safe parking with a car guard available. More information on 033 392 2801 or visit