Early illustrators in the New World

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This selection of works by Early Illustrators in the New World collects images of explorers, colonizers, and naturalists who documented what they found in this territory unknown to Europeans. His drawings and illustrations were a mixture of observation, often adorned with imagination and myth. Below we list the first notable illustrators in the New World included in this volume:

  1. John White (c. 1540–1593): English artist and cartographer who was part of the expedition to Roanoke, North Carolina. His detailed watercolors of native people and flora and fauna are some of the earliest surviving images of North America.
  2. Theodor de Bry (1528-1598): Although he never traveled to the New World, de Bry is known for his engravings of Native American life based on the paintings of John White and Jacques Le Moyne.
  3. Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues (c. 1533-1588): French artist who accompanied the French expedition to Florida in 1564. His works depict Native Americans and local wildlife.
  4. José de Acosta (1540-1600): Spanish Jesuit missionary who wrote one of the first detailed descriptions of the geography and nature of the New World, including illustrations.
  5. Hernán Cortés (1485-1547): Although mainly known as a conquistador, Cortés made some sketches and maps that accompanied his letters to Charles V describing his expeditions in Mexico.
  6. Francisco Hernández de Toledo (1514-1587): Sent by Philip II to New Spain, he made an in-depth study of the nature of the place, making detailed descriptions of plants and animals. Although his original illustrations have been lost, they were recreated in Europe.
  7. Hans Staden (1525-1579): German adventurer and explorer who was one of the first Europeans to document the lives of indigenous Brazilians. His engravings about his time as a prisoner among the Tupinambás are an important visual testimony of the time.

These early illustrators played a key role in transmitting information about the New World to Europe. His works, though sometimes inaccurate or exaggerated, offer a fascinating window into how Europeans viewed and understood the Americas during the early years of contact and colonization.

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