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Evening Lectures Accompany Exhibition of 16th-Century John White Watercolors

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., June 26, 2008—Three public Saturday evening lectures are linked to “A New World: England’s First View of America,” the British Museum exhibition of  16th-century watercolor drawings by John White opening at Jamestown Settlement July 15.

 White’s watercolors, the earliest visual record by an Englishman of the flora, fauna and people of the New World, are on public display as an entire group for the first time in more than 40 years and will be at Jamestown Settlement through Oct. 15.  John White accompanied a number of expeditions sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh to the mid-Atlantic region of North America in the 1580s and was governor of the short-lived colony at Roanoke Island, part of modern North Carolina.

 Lectures are scheduled in Jamestown Settlement’s Robins Foundation Theater at 7 p.m. on July 19 with Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Silver Professor of History at New York University; Aug. 9 with Daniel K. Richter, Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania; and Sept. 20 with Karen Hearn, Curator of 16th- and 17th-Century British Art at Tate Britain in London. 

 Kupperman, author of  “The Jamestown Project” and “Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America,” will present “Roanoke’s Achievement” on July 19.  Although Roanoke did not succeed as a colonial foundation, it made substantial contributions to English comprehension of the Atlantic, both in the design of colonial societies and in understanding American cultures.  Kupperman will explain how the partnership of Manteo, the coastal Carolina Algonquian man who joined the colonists, the Renaissance scientist Thomas Harriot, and the painter John White made the record they created uniquely valuable.

Richter, author of “Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America,” will present “Tassentasse in Tsenacomoco: Native People and the English, 1560-1622” on Aug. 9.  The native people of the Chesapeake Bay region called Europeans “tassentasse,” which politely translates as “strangers.”  They called their homeland “Tsenacomoco,” which means something like “the densely populated land.”  Richter’s presentation will explore the political and diplomatic world of Tsenacomoco and how it shaped native relations with Europeans from earliest contacts with the Spanish through the outbreak of war with the English in 1622.

Hearn, whose Tate exhibition “Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530-1630” earned her a European Women of Achievement award, will present “Painting in Elizabethan England: John White in Context” on Sept. 20.  Surprisingly little is known about the artists who worked in late Tudor England, but the portraits they produced were often rich and intricate.  Hearn will discuss some of the most important images, including those of Elizabeth I, and contrast them with John White’s very different drawings.

 Advance reservations are recommended for the free evening lectures and can be made at (757) 253-4415 orrsvp.lecture@jyf.virginia.gov.

Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg, adjacent to Historic Jamestowne.  For more information about the museum, visit hif.ciniva.net or call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.