Illustration of Williamsburg buildings, flora and fauna (not titled)
Gift of the Bodleian Library
Acc. No. 1938-196
Williamsburg scenes on copper plate donated by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, England, listed in Andrew's and Davenport's "Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783 in the British Museum, etc." The engraving depicts: 1. Brafferton Building, College of William and Mary; 2. Main (or Wren Building), College of William and Mary; 3. The President's House, College of William and Mary; 4. North Elevation of the first Capitol at Williamsburg; 5. West Elevation Main Building (Wren Building), College of William and Mary; 6. Governor's Palace; 7. Sixteen images of natives, flora and fauna.
Label:This remarkable plate, discovered in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University in 1929, depicts the only surviving period view of many of the public buildings and gardens in the Virginia colonial capital. William Byrd II of Westover is thought to have commissioned this copper plate in an effort to promote the Virginia colony. It illustrates the only known 18th-century elevation of the Governor’s Palace, indicating the presence of oval beds and stone paths in the forecourt and the formal gardens with garden houses behind. The clipped rows of topiary evergreens and bushes at the Wren building, the main building of the College of William and Mary, are also represented.
Provenance:This copperplate, engraved between 1732 and 1747, conceivably to illustrate a book descriptive of America, was deposited in the Bodleian Library as an item of the Rawlinson Collection. Investigating a notation contained in a historical manuscript guide by Charles M. Andrews and Frances G. Davenport, Miss Mary F. Goodwin, a research worker of the Restoration staff, located and identified the plate in December 1929. So great was its contribution to the architectural and landscape restoration and reconstruction of Williamsburg, the copperplate has been called "the Cornerstone of the Restoration."