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The Town of Secota

1590
Origin: Europe, Germany, Frankfurt
OH: 16 1/4" x OW: 13" (Framed)
Black and white line engraving
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1983-286,20
Label:In 1585, John White accompanied the first English expedition to colonize America. Backed by Sir Walter Raleigh, the venture made an unsuccessful attempt to establish a colony on Roanoke Island, in present-day North Carolina. During his time with the first colony, White created an extensive, detailed visual record of the land and its native inhabitants. White’s watercolors were later popularized through the engravings of Theodore De Bry.

White’s images, however, were steeped with myths and preconceptions of the New World. His depiction here of the Algonquian town of Secota depicts an orderly place with well laid-out fields of corn, tobacco, squash and sunflowers, all planted in rows and segregated from one another. Agricultural archaeology has since shown that such representations were the artist’s creation to reflect the post-Renaissance manner of organizing knowledge that was fashionable in Europe.