- Museum number
Coastal profiles of Dominica and Santa Cruz (Saint Croix)
Pen and brown ink over graphite, with watercolour
Verso: a faint profile of the same part of the coast of Dominica, in black lead
- Production date
Height: 244 millimetres
Width: 217 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.
The following text is taken from K. Sloan, 'A New World: England's First View of America' (London, BM Publications, 2006), no.3, pp.98-99:
[NB. If you use any of the text or information below, please acknowledge the source]
Coastal profiles were essential records for any voyage, as they helped mariners to recognize the land they were approaching and assisted them in steering a course through islands or along a coast. In the West Indies they were also particularly important for identifying sites where English ships could land to take on water and provisions and avoid encountering the Spanish. Like charts, such drawings were probably circulated; when a ship was captured, the most valuable of the prizes on board were the charts and maps for navigation. From the seventeenth century when drawing was taught professionally to young seamen in the British navy, coasting prospects were an important part of their lessons.
According to the scale given here, each of these profiles represents about 40 miles of coastline. The course across the Atlantic from the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands was directed by the currents towards Dominica and the recognition of its coastline was a cause for celebration. White’s expedition made landfall there on 7 May 1585, when this drawing was probably made; from there the course lay towards St John’s Island (now Puerto Rico), via Santa Cruz (St Croix) as seen in the chart of Drake’s voyage below.
The handwriting on this drawing is not the same as that on the rest of the drawings and for this reason the attribution of the drawing to White has been doubted. However, as the official artist, White was probably required to make many of these prospects for future use by Raleigh’s mariners and they might have been labelled by the captain, navigator, master or another member of the ship’s crew.
Lit.: LB 1(37); Quinn, pp. 159–60, 403; ECM 2; PH&DBQ 2; PH 2; H. Miller, pp. 30, 35–6
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1965 Jan 30-Feb 22, NGC, Washington, John White, no.2
1965 26 Feb- 14 Mar, NC Mus of Art, Raleigh, John White, no. 2
1965 17 Mar-5 Apr, NY, Pierpont Morgan Libr, John White, no. 2
2007 Mar-Jun, BM, 'A New World:...', no.3
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