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Theodor de Bry Collection

History Archive - Voyages and Travels Decoration
Theodor de Bry - Theodor de Bry Portrait (1597)

Theodor de Bry Portrait (1597)

The Theodor de Bry collection of travels and voyages is one of the main primary sources for many of the voyages and travels of the Age of Discovery between the 15th and 17th centuries. His works contain Latin and German versions of famous explorers like Vasco de Gama, Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake and so many more its easier to name who the de Bry firm did not write about.

Born to a wealthy Protestant family and trained in his native Liège as a goldsmith and engraver, Theodor de Bry fled the Netherlands around 1570 due to religious persecution. After moving to the free city of Strasbourg, de Bry left for England in 1586. There he made some of his best-known works, engraved copies after scenes from the New World.

While de Bry was in England, his family moved permanently to Frankfurt and set up a publishing business there. When he returned in 1589, he and his sons illustrated ten volumes of American travel literature with his New World engravings, published from 1590 to 1618.

Most Europeans came to know the costumes and customs of the American Indians and the historical events of the New World through de Bry's prints, however distorted. He depicted cannibals, religious ceremonies and other aspects of Amerindian life which give an interesting insight into the first available image accounts of their culture.

Theodor de Bry - Theodor de Bry Small Voyages Books

Three Volumes of the Small Voyages

He used European standards for landscape and figure types and, as a Lutheran, emphasized the cruelty of the Catholic Spanish conquerors toward the Peruvian natives. His works contributed later to the black legend, which exaggerated claims of Spanish cruelty towards the Amerindians.

De Bry also published a series of engraved portraits of famous men. In addition to many book illustrations, he produced a large number of other prints, particularly designs for jewelry and goldsmith work.

Bibliography

Theodor de Bry and his firm published four major series of books, two in Latin and two in German along with some other works. These are known as the Grand and Small or Petit voyages. The Grand Voyages depict most of the main travels and explorations to the New World while the Small Voyages focuses on the East Indies and Asia.

We have painstakingly collected all of the available copies of these works and published them here.

Works of Theodor de Bry

Related Works

Bibliography

Keazor, H. (1998). Theodore De Bry's Images for America. Print Quarterly, 15(2), 131-149. JSTOR.