John White Exhibition

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 An Indian Werowance, watercolour by John White, 1585.
An Indian Werowance, or Chief,
John White, watercolour, c. 1585.
© The Trustees of the British Museum.
All rights reserved.


 The town of Secotan, watercolour, by John White, 1585.
The town of Secotan, John White, watercolour, c. 1585.
©The Trustees of the British Museum.
All rights reserved.

Purchase tickets to
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Learn more about John White and his watercolors in 'A New World: England's First View of America' exhibition brochure. (PDF opens in a new window.)

Listen as Tom Davidson, curator at Jamestown Settlement, talks about
the life and art of John White in an interview with Steve Clark of WCVE community ideas station FM 88.9.

FOR YOUNG PEOPLE: Artifact Guide online booklet for youngsters
Use this Artifact Odyssey guide to learn about John White, the Jamestown Settlement galleries and outdoor areas and discover
how historians use nature, artifacts, images and words to learn about the people and places of 17th-century Virginia. (PDF opens in new window.)

British Museum Exhibition of
John White Watercolors

A New World: England's First View of America
July 15, 2008 - October 15, 2008
Jamestown Settlement 

Jamestown Settlement exhibited the 16th-century watercolor drawings of John White from the British Museum’s “A New World: England’s First View of America” July 15 through October 15, 2008.

The drawings are the earliest visual record by an Englishman of the flora, fauna and people of the New World.  White accompanied a number of expeditions sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh to Virginia in the 1580s and was governor of the short-lived colony at Roanoke Island, part of modern North Carolina.  He departed for England in 1587 to obtain more supplies, but war with Spain delayed his return until 1590.  By then the colonists had vanished, and Roanoke became known as the “Lost Colony.” 

Jamestown, America’s first permanent English colony, was established 17 years later, about 100 miles away.  White’s depictions of the Algonquian-speaking people of the region have been an important resource in the development of Jamestown Settlement’s gallery exhibits and outdoor re-created Powhatan Indian village. 

Scenes from other parts of the Americas and depictions of peoples of the world also are among the more than 70 White drawings in the exhibition. White’s work is widely known through adaptations by other artists, especially Theodor de Bry, whose engravings after White’s watercolors illustrate a 1590 edition of Thomas Harriot’s “A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia.”  

The exhibition at Jamestown Settlement was funded in part by donations and grants, including an appropriation from James City County. 

Learn about Roanoke's Achievement, a lecture about John White and the Roanoke colony delivered by Karen Ordahl Kupperman, a leading early American history scholar, at Jamestown Settlement on July 19 in connection with the special exhibition.

Read more about the significance of the John White watercolors.


Administered by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia that is accredited by the American Association of Museums.
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