Theodor de Bry (1528 – 1598)
was a prominent Flemish goldsmith, engraver and publisher. He was born in Liege into a family of jewellers and engravers. In his youth he was trained in those artisanal trades. In 1560 he is to be found in Strasbourg and there are different explanations of the reasons why he left Liege. One explanation is that as a Lutheran his life was threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down Non-Catholics and that De Bry was banished, his goods were seized and he fled to the Protestant Strasbourg. The other explanation is that he „only“ regarded his future perspectives sceptic in Liege and left before Catholic Spain took over. Since 1578 he lived in Frankfurt and founded a printing company. In 1590, de Bry began a compilation of early voyages and had published six parts at the time of his death in 1598. His widow, two sons and another family member continued his work, which comprised a total of 54 parts when it was completed in 1630.The publication was in two series, denoted the „Grands Voyages“ and the „Petits Voyages“ solely on account of the folio and small folio size of their pages. There were full editions in German and in Latin.
Barents’ map from 1598/99 serves as an example for de Bry’s map but there are changes in some coastlines, in the lettering and in the decorative elements.Two versions exist, both in the „Petits Voyages“. The first state was published in the German edition in 1599, the second in the Latin edition of 1601. This impressive map is from the latter. Now the left-hand half of the title cartouche is filled with a Latin text which is identical to the Barent’s map and in the lower right corner a German mileage scale is printed.
The map shows Scandinavia, „Novazembla“, Spitsbergen („Das newe lant“), Greenland, Iceland, the mythical island „Frisland“, „Estotiland“ (Labrador) and „Grocland“ (,most likely Baffin Island“) and Strait Davis.
The maps optical center is the North Pole („Polus Arcticus“). Astonishingly also the „Polus Magnetis“ is marked. The Arctic Circle („Circulus Areticus“) runs too far south.
The map is decorated with two compass roses and lots of fish, sea monsters and fregates.
Iceland has only few places-names, mostly of fjords, peninsulas and islands, only three in the interior, the famous volcano Hekla and the bishoprics Skalholt and Holar.