||Gottfried, Johann Ludwig, 17th cent.
||Newe Welt vnd americanische Historien [illustrations--excerpt]
||Gottfriedt, Johann Ludwig. Newe Welt vnd americanische Historien. (Franckfurt: Bey denen Merianischen Erben, 1655). 49 selected plates.
||50 / 49
Little is known about the German publisher Johann Ludwig
Gottfried (seventeenth century), who inherited the Theodor De
Bry’s (1528-1598) publishing firm and
then issued the illustrations shown here.
Note on the Illustrations
When the French set out to establish the first permanent colony
in North America in 1564, they sent along a painter, Jacques Le
Moynes des Morgues, to record their experiment (see AJ-141). Similarly,
when English colonists set out for Virginia in 1587, artist John
White was instructed to draw and paint the landscape, plants, animals,
and inhabitants of the New World (see AJ-035 to AJ-038).
Although both colonies quickly perished—the French
massacred by the Spanish, and the English simply vanishing from
Roanoke Island—the paintings and drawings of Le Moynes des
Morgues and White found their way to de Bry’s Frankfurt
publishing firm. De Bry copied them into copperplate
engravings and, beginning in 1590, published them alongside
eyewitness textual accounts. These illustrated books proved so
popular that he expanded the series to include all the great
Renaissance voyages of exsploration.
Between 1590 and 1634, de Bry and his sons issued thirteen volumes
containing illustrated accounts of the expeditions of Magellan,
Columbus, Vespucci, Cortes, Balboa, Raleigh, Drake, Smith, and
many others. In most cases, theirs were the first images ever
made of the Americas by Europeans.
In 1631 Johann Ludwig Gottfried, a printer who had worked on
the volumes and inherited the de Bry family publishing firm, issued a
one-volume condensation that used many of the original copper
plates and supplemented them with new ones of more recent
voyages. This work was reprinted in 1655, and we have included
here all the 1655 images of North America, as well as several
depicting the Caribbean at the time of the four Columbus
Although the Florida and Roanoke pictures were made on the
scene by participants, most of de Bry’s other images were drawn
by European artists who had never set foot in America, working
from textual descriptions. This helps to explain the wildly
inaccurate and fanciful depictions of mermaids, dragons, and
other mythical creatures that occasionally appear.
Other Internet and Reference Sources
"Early Images of Virginia Indians" is an informative
web site that discusses the interpretation of historical images,
including various de Bry engravings. It can be found at the Virginia
Historical Society's web site at http://www.vahistorical.org/cole/overview.htm
The New World by Stephan Lorant (N.Y.: Duell, Sloan &
Pierce, 1946) contains all de Bry’s images of Florida and Roanoke,
as well as the full texts of his captions and all the texts he printed.
John White’s original watercolors are reproduced alongside de Bry's
engravings at the "Virtual Jamestown" web site at
A summary of de Bry’s career and the publication of all his illustrations
is “Theodore de Bry and His Illustrated Voyages and Travels” at