Fine pair of early engraved views, based upon original watercolor paintings by Jacques Le Moynes de Morgues, an official French artist who accompanied two important French Expeditions to North America in the 1560s.
The images show the French landings at Port Royal, South Carolina and St, Augustine, Florida, on a single sheet (front and back), which were first published in 1591 by Theodore de Bry. Taken from the publication of the reports of Jean Ribault (1562) and Rene Goulaine de Laudonniere (1564) expeditions, entitled Brevis narratio eorum quae in Florida Americœ provincia Gallis acciderunt . . .
On the first French voyage to the province of Florida, the crew, led by Captain Jean Ribaut, landed at a promontory surrounded by densely wooded and extremely tall trees. In honor of France, the captain of the fleet named it Cape François and noted its position as about 30° North from the equator. Following the coast north from there, they found a wide and pleasant river at whose mouth they dropped anchor, so that next day they might explore more closely.
The map on the left shows the French discoveries along the coast of South Carolina, made several days after the sighting of what was originally named Cape Francois but which on the second voyage under Laudonniere would be called the River of Dolphins (Fluvius Delfinum).
After sailing north, the Ribault's expedition discovered a broad river, which they called May. After discovering six rivers along the Georgian coast, they proceeded further north, where they discovered a river 3 miles wide, which they called Port Royal (the image at the left), marked on De Bry's engraving as Portus Regalis, sive F.S. Helenae. Ribault's crew anchored within the mouth of the river, in ten fathoms of water and later sailed up its northern tributaries to explore. After twelve miles they came across a group of Indians roasting a lynx so they call that part Lynx Point, marked on the engraving Prom. Lupi.
These two images represent, among the earliest and most iconic maps / views drawn from actual observations in North America.
Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was a prominent Flemish engraver and publisher best known for his engravings of the New World. Born in Liege, de Bry hailed from the portion of Flanders then controlled by Spain. The de Brys were a family of jewelers and engravers, and young Theodor was trained in those artisanal trades.
As a Lutheran, however, his life and livelihood was threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down on non-Catholics. De Bry was banished and his goods seized in 1570. He fled to Strasbourg, where he studied under the Huguenot engraver Etienne Delaune. He also traveled to Antwerp, London, and Frankfurt, where he settled with his family.
In 1590, de Bry began to publish his Les Grands Voyages, which would eventually stretch to thirty volumes released by de Bry and his two sons. The volumes contained not only important engraved images of the New World, the first many had seen of the geographic novelties, but also several important maps. He also published a collection focus on India Orientalis. Les Grands Voyages was published in German, Latin, French, and English, extending de Bry’s fame and his view of the New World.