WILLIAMSBURG, Va., June 26, 2008 – “A New World: England’s First View of America,” a British Museum exhibition of the 16th-century watercolor drawings of John White, opens July 15 and will continue through Oct. 15 at Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia operated by the state’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
A companion lecture series will feature guest speakers at 7 p.m. on July 19, Aug. 9 and Sept. 20.
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.”
All of White’s drawings are in the British Museum’s collection and are on public display as an entire group for the first time in more than 40 years. “A New World: England’s First View of America” debuted at the British Museum in March 2007 and traveled to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, N.C., and the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Conn., before concluding at Jamestown Settlement.
The exhibition at Jamestown Settlement is presented through the collaboration of the British Museum and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and is funded in part by donations and grants, including commitments from James City County and the Robins Foundation.
The series of Saturday evening lectures features Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Silver Professor of History at New York University, speaking July 19 on “Roanoke’s Achievement”; Daniel K. Richter, Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, speaking Aug. 9 on “Tassentasse in Tsenacomoco: Native People and the English, 1560-1622”; and Karen Hearn, Curator of 16th- and 17th-Century British Art at Tate Britain, speaking Sept. 20 on “Painting in Elizabethan England: John White in Context.” Advance reservations are recommended for the free evening lectures by contacting (757) 253-4415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jamestown Settlement, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, until 6 p.m. through August 15, is located on Route 31 South at the Colonial Parkway next to Historic Jamestowne, site of the 1607 English settlement. Jamestown Settlement general admission of $13.50 for adults and $6.25 for ages 6 through 12 includes admission to “A New World: England’s First View of America.” Permanent museum exhibits include expansive exhibition galleries and outdoor re-creations of an early 17th-century Powhatan Indian village, the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607 and a 1610-14 colonial fort.
For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838 or visit hif.ciniva.net.