Swiss businessman Henry Dunant established the Red Cross in 1863. He was moved by the suffering of the wounded in the 1859 Battle of Solferino, Italy. To care for the injured, he endeavored to create an international society of volunteers, establishing it in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1863. The now-iconic red cross flag is an inversion of the Swiss flag’s colors, with a red cross on a white backdrop.

From 1875 to 1878, a wave of rebellions broke out against the Ottoman Empire in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, and Montenegro. The Red Cross intervened in these conflicts, but many Muslim soldiers were intimidated by the sight of Doctors dressed in what they assumed was a Christian cross. The Red Crescent was established in Muslim nations, using the Islamic symbol of the crescent moon to put people at ease. However, the Persians were put off by this as the crescent featured on the flag of their old enemies, the Ottomans. The Red Lion was adopted as the organization’s symbol in Persia in 1923.

Artist: Calum O’Fee

Three people holding up different 'Red Cross' flags

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Click here to learn more about what this license means

Thiss means you are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material. As long as you: Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made; ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Credit: Calum O’Fee and Open Past

Want more images?

We will be publishing more images in the coming months. If you would like to be alerted when they are published, please subscribe below.

Consider Donating

All images are FREE, thanks to our funders. If you enjoyed them and want to help us make more please consider donating. Our goal is to get 100 people to donate 5 $ or £ or € month so that we can commission new drawings each month.

Progress: 2 of 100

Click the donate button and either give a one off donation or sign up for monthly donations. Please leave your email in the notes so we can thank you. Any help is appreciated. Thank you!