John White (1540-1593)

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White,A Festive Dance, 1585

A Festive Dance, 1585

John White was an early English colonist, who sailed to the modern day coast of North Carolina. White was sent as Sir Richard Grenville’s artist-illustrator on his first voyage to the New World. During his journey to America he made many drawings with watercolors to document his encounters. These works illustrate the Native Americans on the eastern seaboard and predate “discovery voyage art” created in the late 18th century by artists who sailed with Captain James Cook. White’s drawings were later made into engravings and became widely known. Many of White’s original paintings are now in the print room of the British Museum.

White,A wife of an Indian wereowance or chief of Pomeiooc

A wife of an Indian Wereowance or Chief of Pomeiooc

White later became governor of the Roanoke Colony and led a group of settlers ordered by Sir Walter Raleigh under the authority of the Virginia Company.

White,An Indian wereowance or chief painted for a great solemn gathering

An Indian wereowance or chief painted for a great solemn gathering

Though Roanoke did not last, the colonists were among the first to establish an English colony in America. White served as Governor alongside thirteen assistants. White was the father of Eleanor Dare, the mother of the first English colonist to be born in the New World. The colony ran low on provisions and the colonists requested that White return to England for supplies. White was delayed due to England’s conflict with Spain. When White finally made his return voyage to Roanoke in 1590, the colony was deserted. White returned to Plymouth, England a few months later with the company of a Native American.

White,Engraving of Native Americans

Engraving of Native Americans

White,Early map of New World

Early map of New World

White,Early map of New World

Early Map of New World


Roanaoke Map, Map of Chesapeake Bay to Cape Lookout, 1585, Watercolor Sketch


Baptism of Virginia Dare, 1876, Lithograph


Village of the Secotan in North Carolina, 1585, Watercolor,British Museum, London


North Carolina Algonquin, 1585, Watercolor, British Museum, London

The last known document related to White is a letter he wrote from Ireland in 1593 to the publisher of the prints of his Roanoke drawings. John White’s prints are an important part of English colonial history. Do you think you own a piece by John White? Contact us. We are the John White experts.


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