- Museum number
A Tartar or Uzbek man; wearing striped cloak over blue tunic and hat with fur trim
Watercolour and bodycolour over graphite
- Production date
Height: 243 millimetres
Width: 139 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- For an introduction to this group of drawings by John White and a list of abbreviations used in the Literature at the end, see curatorial comment for 1906,0509.1.1, the title page inscription to the album.
For comment on this group of costume drawings, see 1906,0509.1.31.
The following text, which relates to 1906,0509.1.33-35, is taken from K. Sloan, 'A New World: England's First View of America' (London, BM Publications, 2006), cat. no. 27-29, pp.150-51:
27 A Tartar or Uzbek man
Lit.: LB 1(34); ECM 72; PH&DBQ 135
28 A Turkish woman with black veil
Lit.: LB 1(35); ECM 74; PH&DBQ 138(a)
29 A Greek or Turkish woman, with rose and pomegranate
Lit.: LB 1(36); ECM 76; PH&DBQ 139
John White’s source for these five images of ‘Turkish’ men and women has not been identified. There was a general fascination for Oriental subjects, and many images of them available, such as Hans Eworth’s painting of 'A Turk on Horseback', 1549, or Pieter Coecke van Aelst’s long sequential woodcut ‘Les Moeurs et fachons de faire de Turcs . . .’ or his drawings made in Istanbul on which it was based (see Hearn, Dynasties, p. 64). White’s figures do not match any of these figures exactly, but his own images might have been based on one of the many costume books circulating in the form of printed books and as albums of drawings throughout Europe in the second half of the century. The style of these particular watercolours by White has been described as ‘flat and stiff’, as if they were drawn from engravings. Nicolas de Nicolay’s 'Les Quatres Premiers Livres des Navigateurs et Peregrinations Orientales', published in Lyons in 1568, has been suggested as the closest example for the women, perhaps indicating that the engraver and White shared a common prototype (PH&DBQ 137, 138) Smaller versions of the illustrations appeared in the 1585 London edition of Nicolay’s work The Navigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkie, entitled ‘A woman Turk going through the Citie’ (p. 63) and ‘A woman Turk dressed a la Moor’ (p. 56).
The same images of Turkish men and women, mostly taken from Nicolay’s engravings, were repeated constantly through the century with little significant change; but not only are White’s women different from all the existing images but the men do not relate to any of the engravings at all. White has taken some pains with these studies; the two men are almost portraits, their features, caps and stoles are carefully drawn, clearly indicating a pose characteristic of the type of men represented. The facial features of the woman wearing a cloth wrapped around her head are indicated underneath and the figure of the woman with a black veil was fully drawn before the veil and white semi-transparent cloak were painted over her. Sadly the vermilions have bled and the smalt blue of the Tartar has lifted. None of the engravings indicates the transparency of any of the cloaks or dresses visible below them, indicating that White must have drawn these from painted rather than from printed sources.
See Nicolas de Nicolay’s 'Les Quatres Premiers Livres des Navigateurs et Peregrinations Orientales', 1568 BM copy p.76a, 68a and 160a; see also PH&DBQ, pl. 151
- Bibliographic references
Sloan 2007 / A New World. England's first view of America (27)
Croft-Murray 1960 / Catalogue of British Drawings in the British Museum, XVI and XVII centuries (72)
Binyon 1898-1907 / Catalogue of drawings by British artists, and artists of foreign origin working in Great Britain (1(34))
Hulton & Quinn 1964 / The American Drawings of John White 1577-1590, with drawings of European and Oriental subjects (135)
Greenwood, de Guise 2019 / Inspired by the East: how the Islamic world influenced Western art (Fig.12, pp.122-23)
Bescoby et al 2007 / New visions of a new world: the conservation and analysis of the John White watercolours (p.11, fig.2, p.13, fig.5, p.18, table.1)
Ambers et al 2012 / Hidden history?: examination of two patches on John White's map of 'Virginia' (p.47)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1965 Jan 30-Feb 22, NGC, Washington, John White, no.107
1965 26 Feb-14 Mar, NC Mus of Art, Raleigh, John White, no. 107
1965 17 Mar-5 Apr, NY, Pierpont Morgan Libr, John White, no. 107
2007 Mar-Jun, BM, 'A New World:...', no.27
2007/8 Oct-Jan, Raleigh, North Carolina Mus of History, 'A New World:...'
2008 Mar-Jun, New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, 'A New World:...'
2008 Jul-Oct, Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, 'A New World:...'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The provenance given above refers to the moment when the album of drawings connected with John White was purchased by the Department of Manuscripts in what is now the British Library. The album was transferred to the Department of Prints and Drawings in 1906, where it was assigned new register numbers.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number