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This study of the œuvre of the monk Fre Seyon, one of the greatest painters in the history of Ethiopian art, is supported by the author’s in-depth research into the history, art, and theological literature of Ethiopia. Analysis of symbolic motifs reveals that popular Marian hymns and the theological writings of the scholar-emperor Zar’a Ya’eqob (r. 1434-1468) provided the inspiration for Fre Seyon’s extraordinary paintings. His work, which reflects fifteenth-century exchanges between the Ethiopian and European courts, should now assume its rightful place in our collective understanding of the history of world art. A generous selection of illustrations includes Ethiopian works that have never before been published.