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Stories of distant peoples

The materials exhibited in the display cases dedicated to Africa come partly from the Congo Basin and can be placed in the domain of the exploratory expeditions carried out in the equatorial regions of Africa starting in the mid-1800s, and partly from the Horn of Africa, and constitute a reflection of the Italian colonial involvement in those countries at the end of the last century.


Of particular interest are the paintings by the Modenese painter Augusto Valli, who embarked on his first trip to Africa when he was not yet eighteen years old, on the eve of the Italian occupation of Massaua, “taken by the desire to reproduce those new countries and customs”. He eventually made three trips to the continent, during the last of which, in 1890, he was introduced at the court of Menelik in Addis Ababa, where he painted several portraits of the emperor. Valli created on small wooden boards a series of lively sketches portraying the places and events associated with the Italian presence in Africa at the end of the last century.