Copies and Adaptations of de Bry

Copies and Adaptations of de Bry

Time Period
1623 to 1763
1764 to 1824
Topics
American Indian History
Art & Architecture
Religion
Women's History

For more than two centuries, the 1590 engravings of Virginia Indians by de Bry and van Veen were copied for other publications. Sometimes the copies followed the originals very closely, as in Bernard Picart's 1721 illustrated survey of religious practices around the world.

Engraved book page of a group of nine American Indians seated around a large fire as two others stand near. They are seated on land in front of a body of water where individuals paddling in canoes can be seen in the background.  Virginia Indians seated around a fire

By Bernard Picart after Theodore de Bry
Engraved book page, 1721
From Ceremonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les
peuples du monde représentées par des figures, avec des
explication
s (Amsterdam, 1723–43; later editions 1810, 1819)

Bernard Picart's illustrated survey of religious practices around the world borrowed from the published de Bry engravings. The images were enlarged and some flipped left to right, but otherwise little was altered.

This print is after de Bry's plate 17, in America, Part 1 (1590). The visual elements are the same, but the composition has been reversed. Picart has rendered details differently (such as flames, smoke, sky, and ground), and he has converted de Bry's overhead illumination to side lighting.

 Engraved book page of a tomb, showing deceased kings lined together in a horizontal row on an elevated surface above a person manning a fire.  Tomb of the kings of Virginia

By Bernard Picart after Theodore de Bry
Engraved book page, 1721
From Ceremonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les
peuples du monde représentées par des figures, avec des explications
(Amsterdam, 1723–43; later editions 1810, 1819)

This print is after Theodore de Bry's plate 22, in America, Part 1 (1590).

Picart's copied many elements from the de Bry artwork and the Picart copy follows the original artwork by de Bry except that:

  • it is reversed
  • the idol is somewhat enlarged
  • light and shadow are more delineated

Three-paneled image of an American Indian priest posing in a traditional ceremonial tunic and a sorcerer dancing. Priest and Sorcerer of Virginia

By Bernard Picart after Gysbert van Veen
Engraved book page, 1721
From Ceremonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les
peuples du monde représentées par des figures, avec des
explications
(Amsterdam, 1723–43; later editions 1810, 1819)

John White depicted two types of American Indian religious figures:

  • an older man called a priest
  • younger man White called "the flyer"

Theodore de Bry titled the latter "the conjurer."

On one page Bernard Picart grouped two views of the priest with a portrayal of the "Magicien de la Virginie." This portrayal was copied closely from the 1590 engravings in de Bry's America, Part 1.

Two-paneled image of an American Indian woman in traditional clothing, holding a bow in one hand and an arrow in the other while facing the priest. The bottom image shows a group of American Indians seated and standing around a fire. Sacerdote Virginio

Lithographic book page, c. after 1800

One imagines the artist, apparently Italian, did not copy from de Bry directly, but through an intermediary adaption. Compared to earlier representations, the figures are Europeanized and of more comely, even sensuous, proportions. The priest, paired in the upper image with the hunter/warrior, wears a sort of turban, and his fuzzy garment is not tied at the shoulder but sewn. Lithographic prints came into use at the beginning of the 1800s, so this print dates from no earlier than that.