Friday, December 19, 2008

Nature Sketchings

Sketching the Earliest Views of the New World

The Smithsonian Institute's website has a collection of early watercolor sketches of from the first European explorers of the New World.

"John White wasn't the most exacting painter that 16th-century England had to offer, or so his watercolors of the New World suggest. His diamondback terrapin has six toes instead of five; one of his native women, the wife of a powerful chief, has two right feet; his study of a scorpion looks cramped and rushed. In historical context, though, these quibbles seem unimportant: no Englishman had ever painted America before. White was burdened with unveiling a whole new realm."

Fascinating view of Enlightenment Age attempts at categorizing and representing the natural world as they saw it, especially when you consider what an alien realm the Americas must have seemed to these first invaders.