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Exhibition "Eduard Zander (1813-1868). Views of Ethiopia"

21 April to 31 July 2009
at the German Historical Institute London in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Addis Abeba.

Eduard Zander was a nineteenth-century adventurer who was fascinated by life in Africa. Inspired by the work of the learned naturalists he left the Duchy of Anhalt for Abessinia. Trained as a painter Zander depicted the scenes he came across in the course of his many expeditions. Yet only one sketchbook survived. Rediscovered a few years ago, it portrays nature and everyday life in the Simien mountains of Ethopia.

Eduard Zander (1813-1868) was born into a farming family in Gröbzig in Anhalt-Dessau, central Germany. He received his schooling in the grammar school in Köthen and showed an early talent for drawing and painting. On completing his education he went first to nearby Dessau to train as a painter, then in 1834 to Munich to study painting. Around this time, he heard of the adventurous life of Georg Wilhelm Schimper, the naturalist from Mannheim, who was engaged by the Esslingen Botanical Travel Association on research in Ethiopia. On leaving Munich, Zander returned to Dessau to take up a position with the ducal Askanier family.

His interest in Schimper’s activities continued, however, and in 1847, having received an inheritance, he travelled to Ethiopia himself. Once there, Schimper instructed Zander and both worked on the flora. Schimper worked on the flora and fauna of Northern Ethiopia, dissecting insects and preserving animals, and sending specimens to natural historical collections in France, Great Britain and Germany. He was to remain in Ethiopia for the rest of his life, under the protection first of the local overlord, Dädjach Webe, and then of Ras Kassa, who ascended to the throne as Tewodros II of Abyssinia in 1855. Zander assisted his protectors in various ways, including acting at different times as a medical, architectural and military adviser.

During his time in Ethiopia he remained in correspondence with friends and relatives as well as with the ducal Askanier family, to whom he sent drawings and paintings, and Ethiopian works of art and artefacts, for the ethnographical collection of their Ducal Palace in Dessau. In 1858 he was awarded the Anhalt Medal for Art and Science. The most complete collection of Zander’s works which has survived in one piece, is a leather-bound sketchbook now preserved at the British Museum in London. The exhibition shows a selection of landscapes, buildings and people going about their daily life in North Ethiopia some 150 years ago, keenly observed by Zander.