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The First Printed View of Cartagena. Rare Map of Drake's Attack on Cartagena in 1586.

Fine example in original hand-color of Drake's map of the attack on Cartagena, the earliest extant printed view of Cartagena (and likely any city in Colombia), and an extremely early illustrated Drake item.

This rare view is one of four such maps engraved by Adriaen Huberti to accompany two works published by Franciscus Raphelengium in 1588 in Leiden: A Latin edition, Expeditio Francisci Draki quitis Angli in Indias occidentales, and the French-language edition, Le voyage de Messire François Drake chevalier, aux Indes Occidentales l'an MDLXXXV. These works reported on Drake's 1585-86 expedition against Spanish interests in America. On that voyage, Sir Francis Drake struck first at Santiago (Cape Verde Islands), then arrived in Santo Domingo on January 1586, where he ransomed the city. He proceeded next to Cartagena, which he attacked on February 19, 1586. Drake then headed north, in search of Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke Colony in the modern-day Carolinas, which at the time was in an area called Nova Francia. Drake's expedition reached Cuba in April 1586, before proceeding northward, coasting Florida in May 1586, where he attacked the Spanish fort and later the settlement of St. Augustine, seizing among other things a chest containing 2,000 gold ducats.

The present map is a quite dramatic and exciting bird's-eye view of Cartagena, in present-day Colombia, showing Drake's attack there in progressive stages. Marching troops, houses, animals, trees, and plantations or farms are visible on the island. There are over 30 ships in the scene, including several that are actively cannonading the fort located near the entrance to the bay. Smaller ships within the bay are also firing their cannons. A fine large ship sails prominently in the waters in the foreground. A prominent and rather wonderful figure of an iguana is in the lower right corner. The iguana is especially notable as it was drawn by John White, one of the participants in the Raleigh settlement of Virginia, and represents one of the first publications of any of White's work.

Primacy, Attribution, and Confusion in the Literature

Two versions of the Drake views appeared in the late 1580s, the present view comes from the smaller of the two sets. The large (folio-sized) set is attributed to Baptista Boazio, and was likely published in 1588 to 1589 to accompany Walter Bigges's 1589 A Summarie and True Discourse of Sir Frances Drakes West Indian Voyage. Although the larger plates have more decorative embellishment, modern scholarship has concluded that the smaller plates were published earlier.

In his 1970 Sir Francis Drake: a Pictorial Biography, H.P. Kraus wrote:

There is no evidence for an earlier date for the larger engravings than 1589, when they are mentioned on the title pages of the two English editions issued that year. It is therefore entirely possible that the smaller engravings appeared before the larger ones; no priority can, however, be established at present.

Updating the record in 1981, in Sir Francis Drake's West Indian Voyage 1585-86, Mary Frear Keeler concluded:

A close comparison of details, however, suggests that the smaller engravings come from an earlier set of drawings and that the larger maps represent revisions as well as embellishments, probably done by the same artist.

To expound on Kraus's reasoning, the title page for the 1588 Latin Expeditio calls for four maps ("Additis passim regionum locorúmque omnium tabulis Geographicis quàm accuratissimis.") as does the 1588 French Le voyage de Messire François Drake ("Avecq Cartes Geographicques de tout.") We examined two examples of the French text (JCB and Austrian National Library), and while both texts lack the engravings, there is evidence that they were present at one point. It was not until 1589 that a title page calls for the larger engravings.

The JCB has an example of the 1589 German-language edition titled Relation oder Beschreibu[n]g der Rheiss vnd Schiffahrt auss Engellandt..., which includes the four Drake plates (in second states, lacking the French captions) as well as Frans Hogenberg's 1589 map of the Americas. The title page seems to call for a general map in addition to the specific views "taken from life" ("Sampt hieben gefüegten schönen in Kupffer gestoch nen Charten mit welchen so wol die gantz Schiffart in gemein als auch insonderheit ein jede für sich selbs eigentlich und nach dem leben gerissen andgedeutet und beschrieben worden.") This led Burden (71) to conclude that in addition to the map of the Americas, the views were engraved by Hogenberg as well. While the style is similar to historical and news engravings done by Hogenberg around this time, the views are stylistically more similar to those by Adriaen Huberti, who engraved at Antwerp. See for instance this view of Ostende in the British Museum. This attribution is further solidified by the inclusion of three of the Drake views in a set of historical and news engravings comprised exclusively of other works by Huberti, which appeared on the market several years ago.

This Cartagena view and the other three views described above are perhaps familiar to many collectors for their later contemporary publication in De Bry's Grands Voyages, Part VIII, which were clearly derived from the smaller versions, such as the present Cartagena example.


WorldCat locates a copy of this map in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Our survey uncovered four examples of the print in its first state. Kraus reported seven sets of the smaller views, of indeterminate state and completeness.

An important map and view of one of the chief exploits of Sir Francis Drake in America.

Condition Description
Engraved map on laid paper. Nice early hand-coloring. Approximately ten scattered pin-hole-sized wormholes. Four areas of larger worm tracks with expert paper restoration (mostly in lower blank margin area, but also affecting upper left printed area which, however, is far from the main action of the image). Withal, a very good example, and with ample margins.
Keeler, Mary Frear (Ed), Sir Francis Drake’s West Indian Voyage 1585-86, Hakluyt Society, 1981. Kraus, H. P. Sir Francis Drake: a Pictorial Biography 20.