- Museum number
Crocodile or alligator; seen from above, mouth slightly open, facing to left
Watercolour over graphite with gold on eye
- Production date
Height: 111 millimetres
Width: 233 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.69, pp.214-15:
[NB. If you use any of the text or information below, please acknowledge the source]
Possibly 'Crocodylus acutus' Cuvier but more likely 'Alligator mississipiensis' (Daudin)
This species has proved difficult to identify from White’s drawing. The word ‘Allagatto’ is a corruption of the Spanish ‘El lagarto’ which was applied to any lizard-like reptile. Alligators are not found in the West Indies but crocodiles are, and some have considered that this looks more like the latter. The size given would indicate a reptile of two years rather than one month. In the Sloane volume (P&D SL,5270.13r) the iguana and the crocodile or alligator were both drawn on the same sheet; several other images were doubled up in this way and there are indications that some of the original drawings now mounted separately in the Museum’s collections were once also two images per sheet (e.g. puffer fish and pelican) and were cut up by White to be mounted in the original album or by Charlemont, who may have had them remounted after he acquired them.
Boazio’s alligator on his engraving of San Domingo is similar to but not identical with White’s and is described as ‘A strange beast drawne after the life, & is called by our English mariners Aligarta, by the Spaniards Caiman’.
Lit.: LB 1(74); Quinn, p. 407; ECM 10; PH&DBQ 10(a); PH 10
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1965 Jan 30-Feb 22, NGC, Washington, John White, no.10
1965 26 Feb- 14 Mar, NC Mus of Art, Raleigh, John White, no. 10
1965 17 Mar-5 Apr, NY, Pierpont Morgan Libr, John White, no. 10
2007 Mar-Jun, BM, 'A New World:...', no.69
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