A New World: England's First View of America / Edition 1

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This beautifully illustrated book reproduces in full the famous and rarely seen British Museum collection of drawings and watercolors made by John White, who in 1585 accompanied a group of English settlers sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to found a colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. White's duties included making visual records of everything he encountered that was then unknown in England, including plants, animals, and birds, as well as the human inhabitants, especially their dress, weapons, tools, and ceremonies. The collection also includes White's watercolors of Florida and Brazilian Indians and of the Inuit encountered by Martin Frobisher. Here each work is reproduced in color and supplemented by engravings by Theodor de Bry and other comparable works.

Kim Sloan's introduction sets the scene, followed by chapters placing John White and his work in their historical, cultural, and artistic contexts. Joyce Chaplin explores how White's contemporaries viewed his work and Christian Feest assesses its accuracy as historical documentation. Ute Kuhlemann examines the role of de Bry, White's Frankfurt publisher and engraver. The book explores John White's role as a colonist, surveyor, and artist who not only recorded plants and animals but also provided Elizabethan England with its first glimpse of a now-lost American Indian culture and way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This masterfully crafted volume accompanies and complements an exhibit of John White's 16th-century artwork that opened recently at the British Museum. Compiled and partly written by Sloan (curator, Enlightenment Gallery, British Museum), it includes a catalog of all the artist's watercolors and drawings held at the museum. White's artwork provided residents of Elizabethan England with their first visual impressions of the plants, animals, and inhabitants of the Americas and showed them glimpses of environments and cultures very different from their own (he participated in five voyages to the Americas during the 1580s). In introductory chapters, Sloan and three prominent historical scholars provide background information on what is known about White's life and art, the Elizabethan context of his work, the lifestyles of the Algonquin Native Americans with whom he came into contact, and the engravings of his paintings. Together, they have done an outstanding job of insightfully presenting White's work in the context of his time while also showing its historical relevance. An extremely well-written and well-researched work with excellent art reproductions (185, in color), copious endnotes, and an extensive bibliography; very highly recommended for history and art collections in academic and large public libraries.
—Elizabeth Salt

From the Publisher
"Full of insightful revelations, subtle inferences, and extraordinary detail that bring to both the serious scholar and casual reader a refreshing look at the corpus of John White's work."
NC Historical Review

"Provides not only a new edition of White's images but also many new insights and perspectives on the artist."
American Literary History

"A well-rounded portrait of White, his significance, and his role in England's early colonial activities in North America."
Winterthur Portfolio

"Put[s] White's paintings, beautifully reproduced, into the hands of a large number of readers."
Huntington Library Quarterly

"This book should be in every library devoted to art and history."

"This handsome collaborative volume . . . brings the best of today's interdisciplinary scholarship to bear on his work in both its original and engraved versions."
International History Review

"Provides background and context for White and his work in three deeply researched essays as well as in the text accompanying the beautifully reproduced watercolors from the exhibition."
William and Mary Quarterly

"Splendid. . . . A great contribution to early Carolinian history."
Post and Courier

"A thought-provoking volume."
Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology

"A masterful book that should be strongly recommended for all ages, classrooms, and libraries. . . . Highly recommended."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807858257
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/26/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.72 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Kim Sloan is curator of British drawings and watercolors and Francis Finlay Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery in the British Museum. Her three previous books include "A Noble Art": Amateur Artists and Drawing Masters, c. 1600-1800.

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