The Lost Colony
40”H x 64”W
currently located at: Altermann auction

The Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island was a late 16th century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement in the Americas. The enterprise was organized and financed by Sir Walter Raleigh. They were led by John White, a friend of Raleigh, and were ordered to travel to Roanoke Island first, where they disembarked. White established relations with the Croatans, depicted in this painting, but hostile tribes refused to meet with him. Fearing for their lives, the colonists persuaded White to return to England to explain the colony’s desperate situation and ask for help. He sailed for England in late 1587, promising to return with help and supplies in six months. When he returned, he found no trace of the men, women and children left behind, only the word “Croatoan” carved into a fence post of the abandoned village. The mother in the painting is holding her infant daughter Virginia Dare, the first white child born in the Americas. The end of the 1587 colony is still unexplained, leading to its being referred to as the Lost Colony, and there are multiple theories as to the fate of the colonists.

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