Finely colored example of the Coats of Arms of Frederick IV, Elector Palatine, from a late edition of De Bry's Voyages.
This intricately designed coat of arms shows a lion standing atop a medieval suit of armor, with three heraldic symbols below. This is flanked by two majestic lions, and the whole is set in a majestic neoclassical setting. Text above and below the image describes the greatness of Frederick IV.
Frederick IV was also known as Frederick the Religious. He inherited the title Elector Palatine and was an ardent Calvinist. He continued anti-Catholic measures and served as head of the Protestant League. However, his ardent religiousness hid his alcoholism, which led to his retirement from state matters.
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 were 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 focused 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.