via The British Museum site:
A New World: England's first view of America
15 March – 17 June 2007
'Staggering' The Times
'Enthralling...unmissable' The Telegraph
The extraordinary watercolours of John White gave the Elizabethan world its first glimpse of America, ultimately shaping its view of the New World. This exhibition focuses on more than 70 watercolours made by White on the voyages to Virginia (now North Carolina) in the 1580s. These images are the earliest visual record by an Englishman of the flora, fauna and people of America and provide us with an idea of how fascinating this strange New World must have been to Europeans of the late 16th century.
The exhibition also features a selection of Elizabethan portraits, maritime and scientific instruments from the period, alongside historic maps, books, prints and other exquisite objects which relate to Elizabethan navigation and capture the excitement of this golden age of exploration.
A New World looks at the lasting impact John White's watercolours had on the Old World's impression of America. His legacy continued for over 250 years after his death thanks to the reproduction and adaptation of his work by later artists, a selection of which is displayed in the exhibition.
Exhibition supported by The Annenberg Foundation.
Generous support was also provided by the American Friends of the British Museum and Mr Francis Finlay.
via Time Out, Mon Mar 12, 2007:
A New World: England's First View of America
by Sara O'Reilly
Until Jun 17 British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
A new exhibition opening at the British Museum on Thursday provides an opportunity to see the artworks that were largely responsible for shaping England’'s initial idea of America.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a collection of watercolours by John White, who travelled to America with Sir Walter Raleigh in order to document the New World.
White's fascinating pictures of the complex and sophisticated culture of the North Carolina Algonquin Indians and the landscapes, wildlife and plants of 'Virginia' (what we now call North Carolina was named by Raleigh for his queen) are the only surviving original visual record of this period of America’s history. Although the paintings are all part of the British Museum’s collection, they are being displayed together for the first time in 40 years. They’re accompanied by artefacts – portraits, maps and navigational instruments – loaned by the National Portrait Gallery, the British Library and the National Maritime Museum to set the scene at the Elizabethan court in a display that marks the 400th anniversary in May of the first permanent Jamestown settlement.
The exhibition also provides a glimpse of the earlier ‘lost colony’ of Roanoke. Although relatively few facts have come to light about John White, it is known that he was part of a second expedition dispatched by Raleigh after an initial fact-finding voyage in 1584. Accompanying Thomas Harriot, Raleigh's tutor in navigation, a linguist, recorder and surveyor whose task was to establish the land’s potential for farming and trade. White’s job was to produce visual records and maps in order to drum up investment and entice colonists prepared to found an English plantation.
The 1585 voyage anchored off the outer banks of what is now North Carolina built a small fort on the island of Roanoke, surveyed the coastline and brought back to England reports and pictures of the site they deemed the perfect place to start an English community. Preparations were made for a permanent colony of 115 men women and children at the 'Cittie of Raleigh' on the Chesapeake and John White was appointed their governor with 12 assistants. But when the new expedition set off in 1587 it landed at Roanoke with insufficient supplies. White was obliged to return to England to get assistance but once there he found that, because of the Spanish Armada, his relief ships were denied permission to sail.
When he finally made it back to North Carolina, three years later in 1590, no trace of the colonists remained and the legend of the 'lost colony' of Roanoke – the subject of much intriguing internet debate – was born.