Bry, Theodor De, Thomas Hariot, and John White
- [Hariot's Virginia]. Wunderbarliche, doch Warhafftige Erklärung, von der Gelegenheit und Sitten der Wilden in Virginia ... Erstlich in Engelländischer Sprach beschrieben durch Thomam Hariot. Frankfurt: Johann Wechel for Theodor de Bry and Sigismund Feirabend, 1590
- paper, ink, paint, leather
Folio (13 1/8 x 9 in.; 334 x 229 mm). BINDING: Expertly bound to style in 18th-century red morocco, covers with triple gilt fillet border, spine with raised bands in seven compartments, bands highlighted with gilt hatching, lettered in the second compartment, the others with repeat decoration of small tools around a central flower-spray tool, marbled endpapers, red stained edges.
Some spotting and offsetting, occasional closed marginal tears, a few plates trimmed and with spots affecting images.
The publication of this work by De Bry launched what would later become known as his Grand Voyages. It is without question the most important of the series both in terms of contemporary influence and modern historical and ethnographic value. The text is here united by De Bry with engravings based on watercolors accomplished by John White, a member of the expedition to the New World.
In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh received a ten year charter to establish the first permanent English settlement in Virginia and over the course of the next five years four expeditions landed at Roanoke for that purpose. The second of those expeditions included mathematician and navigator Thomas Hariot and artist and later colonial governor John White. Upon his return to London, Hariot would privately publish in 1588 A Brief and True Account of the New Found Land of Virginia (extant in but 6 known copies) which detailed the explorations and discoveries during the 1585 expedition. The following year Hakluyt would include the text in his seminal Principall Navigations.
In 1589, master engraver and publisher Theodor De Bry traveled to London where he met Hakluyt, who informed him of the British expeditions to Virginia and shared with him both Hariot's journal and White's watercolors from the expedition. Hakluyt suggested the publication of a series of illustrated voyages to America, beginning with Hariot/White. De Bry returned to Frankfurt and in 1590 published the work in Latin, German, French and English.
John White's illustrations are among the most famous of early American images. White was the lieutenant-governor of the abortive colony, and a skilled artist. His carefully executed watercolors, gleaned from close observation are remarkably accurate renderings of the Carolina Indians and their customs, costumes, rituals, hunting practices and dwellings. No other artist so carefully rendered American Indians until Karl Bodmer worked on the Missouri in the 1830s. The engravings after White are the best pictorial record of American Indians before the 19th century, while the important map within the work is the first detailed depiction of the Virginia coast and Carolina capes, showing the coast from the mouth of the Chesapeake to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Sabin writes that according to the Russian prince Serge Sobolewski, the noted collector of De Bry whose voluminous collection was purchased by James Lenox and is now at the New York Public Library, the German editions were "made with more care and better typographical arrangement." In addition, the German-language editions of Hariot are considerably more scarce than the Latin.
The contemporary hand coloring of this copy is extraordinary and of the utmost rarity. Hariot's Virginia is a monument to early Americana and the first, and perhaps the greatest, of all illustrated works depicting Native Americans in the United States.