Fine map illustrating the discovery of the Straits of Le Maire, as discovered in January 1616 by Le Maire and Schouten.
This is De Bry's edition of the first printed map to detail the strait, showing the Magellan Strait and, further south, the route of Schouten and Le Maire which opened up an alternate to the Spice Islands, circumventing the VOC trade monopoly on the route to the East Indies via the Magellan Strait. The map appeared in De Bry's Pars Undecima Americae, the 11th volume in Theodor De Bry's Grand Voyages.
In June 1615, Jacob Le Maire (circa 1585–1616) and Willem Corneliszoon Schouten (circa 1567–1625) set out in two ships, the Eendracht and the Hoorn, from Texel, in search of a new route to the Spice Islands, in order to circumvent the trade monopoly of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC). They sailed south of the Strait of Magellan and on January 24, 1616, discovered a new passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans: a strait about 20 miles wide between Tierra del Fuego and what they called Staten Land (Isla de los Estados, Argentina), which would become the Le Maire Strait. Several days later, Le Maire and Schouten became the first Europeans to round the extreme southern point of South America, which they named Cape Horn in honor of Schouten’s birthplace, the city of Hoorn.
Despite discovering a new route, their expedition was not very successful. When they arrived in Batavia, their story was not believed and their remaining vessel, the Eendracht, was confiscated along with its cargo.
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.