Walter Raleigh, a man of many talents and accomplishments, distinguished himself as a soldier, historian, poet, businessman, and politician. As an explorer, he helped set the stage for English colonization of the New World.
He was not, however, renowned for his facility with a paint brush.
Days before the 400th anniversary of his death this October 29, historians discovered a wall painting under layers of peeling paint in the Tower of London’s Bloody Tower, where Raleigh was once confined. This loosely painted sketch features a man wearing a laurel wreath. A self-portrait? Historic Royal Palaces staff believe the painting dates to the early seventeenth century, the period in which Raleigh was incarcerated in the Bloody Tower. See https://www.foxnews.com/science/sir-walter-raleighs-self-portrait-may-have-been-discovered-in-the-tower-of-london
In addition to sharing the painting with the public, the Tower has also opened a special “Lost Garden” to commemorate the anniversary of Raleigh’s death. This is one of several worldwide remembrances, including one at the North Carolina State Capitol on Saturday, October 27.
To learn more about the multifaceted Raleigh, visit the North Carolina Collection Gallery’s newest exhibition, Sir Walter Uncloaked: The Man, the Myths, the Legacy, on view through January 31, 2019.
“For Americans during the Civil War, embracing loved ones on paper was a hardship they could only with difficulty overcome. Most of them, no doubt, would have rather not had to resort to it. For us, their efforts created a record of something we rarely get to see: glimmers of the emotional lives of ordinary people long gone.
“Martha [Hendley] Poteet of western North Carolina endured labor and delivery, for at least the ninth time, during her husband’s absence in 1864. When she wrote to Francis a month later, she cheerfully described the easiest postpartum recovery she ever had experienced. ‘I had the best time I ever had and I hav bin the stoutest ever sens I haint lay in bed in day time in two Weeks today.’ Of the baby, a girl she was waiting to name until Francis came home, Martha could report no weight — scales and doctors were rare things in the Blue Ridge.
“She had a better idea. She laid the baby’s hand on scrap of paper, traced a line around it, and carefully cut it out to tuck into the envelope. Some days later, in a long-besieged trench outside Petersburg, Virginia, Francis [Marion] Poteet opened that envelope and held his new daughter’s hand in his….”
— From “The Civil War Art of Using Words to Assuage Fear and Convey Love” by Chrisopher Hager at Zócalo Public Square (Jan. 15, 2018)
Thirty-six examples of the Poteets’ wartime correspondence can be found in the State Archives. The couple’s story is detailed here by Philip Gerard.