Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account

Rare old color example of this early map of the northernmost part of Europe and the Arctic Sea, showing the tracks of Willem Barentsz voyages in search of the Northeast Passage in 1594 and 1595. The map appeared in Theodore de Bry's Petits Voyages.

This rare map is derived from Linschoten's important chart depicting the discoveries of Barent's first and second voyages to the Arctic in search of a northeast passage to Asia. The map provides excellent information on the northern coastline of Scandinavia to the west coast of Novaya Zemlya. It is richly adorned with compass roses, ships, coats of arms, seals, and sea monsters.

The Polar Bear spotted by Barentsz crew is shown, as is the region where the crew encountered Samoyed "wilde men."

Willem Barentsz was a Dutch map maker and explorer. His first major work was an atlas of the Mediterranean, which he co-published with Petrus Plancius. Barentsz believed that the North Polar regions included a northeastern passage to the Pacific and that the Polar regions consisted of open waters above Siberia, due to the fact that they would be exposed to the sun 24 hours per day. In the last decade of the 16th Century, Barentsz made 3 voyages to the North Polar regions. In June 1594, Barentsz led an expedition of 3 ships which sailed from Texel for the Kara Sea. On this voyage, the crew made the first ever encounter with a polar bear. Barentsz's first voyage reached the west coast of Novaya Zemlya. After coasting northward, the crew encountered large icebergs and were forced to turn back and return to Holland.

In 1595, Prince Maurice of Orange commissioned a second Barentsz led expedition, which included 6 ships and a cargo of goods which were intended for trade with China. The expedition made several noteworthy encounters with Samoyed "wilde men" and polar bears, but was forced to turn back when they encountered a frozen Kara Sea.

Barentsz died on his third voyage, never ultimately finding the passage. 

Ginsberg, W.B. (Scandinavia) 49.2.
Theodor De Bry Biography

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.