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WILLIAMSBURG, Va., October 24, 2011 – The transformational impact of scientific advances, economic developments and social change finds expression in a special exhibition organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in cooperation with the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation – “The 17th Century: Gateway to the Modern World” – opening November 16, 2011, at Jamestown Settlement.

Jamestown Settlement, a museum that chronicles the history of 17th-century Virginia, is operated by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency.

Sixty-five objects from the VMFA collection have been selected to illustrate seven themes in the exhibition, which continues through August 15, 2012. 

Highlighting the theme “The World of the Mediterranean” is a Tintoretto portrait of Andrea Barbarigo, who commanded a Venetian galley during the 1571 Battle of Lepanto, the last major naval battle fought by oar-powered ships.  Although this battle effectively stopped the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe, new technologies required to navigate the Atlantic in the following century swiftly made the Mediterranean fleets obsolete, which changed the balance of power, trade and influence on the continent.  The continued influence of Italian culture throughout the 17th century is reflected in several artworks in this section of the exhibition.

“Westward Ho! Conquest of the Atlantic” features early 17th-century portraits of Sir Thomas Dale, who served as marshal and subsequently deputy governor in Virginia between 1611 and 1616, and Captain Robert Adams, who made several voyages to Virginia, including one in 1609 as captain of the Blessing.

Among eight objects in “Religious Conflicts: Reformation and Counter Reformation” are a stove tile depicting Duke Heinrich the Pious of Saxony and an Inca drinking vessel from Peru that incorporates Spanish influences into its traditional design.

Supporting the theme “Enlightenment! New Philosophies and Technologies” are a portrait of John Locke, whose views on government and natural rights influenced the leaders of the American Revolution; depictions of figures associated with mathematics; early maps of Virginia; and a copy of John Ogilby’s 1671 book “America: being the latest, and most accurate description of the New World . . ..”

“New Trade Routes and Products” presents an array of objects from India – a huqqa for smoking through water, a metal bowl and six watercolor scenes – and China – a porcelain sculpture of Guanyin, Buddhist symbol of compassion, and porcelain and metal containers.

The increased importance of tableware fueled the production of silver products in the 17th century, and late in the century large numbers of French Huguenot silversmiths fled to England to escape religious persecution.  A variety of English-made objects – including two-handled cups, spoons and a monteith bowl – illustrate the theme “Silver and Silversmiths.”

“Portraits: Faces of the New Century” shows the diversity of the portrait genre in the 17th century.  Along with oil paintings are a medal of Henri IV and Marie de Medicis, a commemorative head from the Akan culture of West Africa, and two needlework scenes, one of the coronation of James I.

“The 17th Century: Gateway to the Modern World” is supported with grants from James City County and Altria Group and other private donors.

Jamestown Settlement, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located southwest of Williamsburg on Route 31 at the Colonial Parkway.  General admission of $15.50 for adults and $7.25 for children ages 6 through 12 includes admission to the special exhibition.  Permanent museum exhibits include expansive exhibition galleries and outdoor re-creations of an early 17th-century Powhatan Indian village, the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607 and a 1610-14 colonial fort.

For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838 or visit hif.ciniva.net.