Europe's view of the colonies

Retained by none other than Sir Walter Raleigh, John White first traveled to North America in 1585, landing on the shores of what is now North Carolina.

In a series of watercolors, he opened up the New World: Algonquin Indians and their villages, the local flora and fauna. White became, in effect, the eyes of the British empire, influencing how Europe saw the unexplored land.

Beginning March 15, the British Museum in London will exhibit more than 70 of White's paintings to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in the New World, at Jamestown in Virginia.

Early North American settlements owed much of their success to White, who viewed the land as a "paradise," according to the British Museum. Charged with creating paintings that would help persuade Englishmen to become colonists and start plantations, White helped Raleigh lay the groundwork for what they hoped would be a permanent colony at the "Cittie of Raleigh."

However, White's settlement was short-lived: He set off for supplies, but the Spanish Armada prevented him from returning until 1590. By then, the colonists had disappeared, leaving only the legend of Roanoke's "Lost Colony."


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