Catalog Archive
Auction 167, Lot 428

"[Vespucci Reaches Lake Maracaibo]", Bry, Theodore de

Subject: Prints - Native American, Venezuela

Period: 1631 (circa)

Publication: Grands Voyages, Part X

Color: Hand Color

6.9 x 5.9 inches
17.5 x 15 cm
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This copper engraving is from a remarkable series of publications, illustrating voyages of discovery and travels of exploration to various parts of the world. The project was begun by Theodore de Bry of Frankfurt, in 1590 and was to continue for another 54 years. They became known collectively as the Grands Voyages (to America and the West Indies) and the Petits Voyages (to the Orient and the East Indies). De Bry died after the first six parts of the Grands Voyages were completed. The project was completed initially by his widow and two sons, Johann Theodore de Bry and Johann Israel de Bry, then by his son-in-law, Matthaus Merian in 1644.

This engraving depicts a village built in the middle of a body of water, with huts built upon poles in the water and bridges linking the huts together. Explorers Alonso de Ojeda, from Spain, and Amerigo Vespucci, from Italy, arrived in Venezuela in 1499 and discovered these fascinating floating villages. The floating villages were located near the Paraguana Peninsula, possibly within Lake Maracaibo. Vespucci was said to have noted that the village reminded him of the city of Venice (or Venezia in Italian), which gave the area its name of Venezuela, meaning Little Venice. The adjacent text explains that the natives initially sent young women in canoes as an offering to the explorers, but then the native men began shooting the Spanish with arrows and throwing spears, forcing the Spaniards to return fire. On verso is an image of how natives in Paria coped with illness. Those with a high fever were first bathed in a cold stream for two hours, then chased around a blazing fire until they were completely dry, and finally put to bed. On a full sheet of German text measuring 9.0 x 13.9".


Condition: B+

Very light soiling and some minor creasing in the blank margins.

Estimate: $200 - $240


Closed on 3/28/2018