SENSATIONAL EARLY ILLUSTRATED AMERICANA
Americae Tertia pars memorabilem provinciae Brasiliae Historiam Continens.
Frankfurt, Mathew Becker for Theodore de Bry, 1592 (1605).
Folio, pp.(ii) + folding map, (xiv) 295 (xvii), last blank. Roman letter, printed side notes. Title within elegant architectural border including native figures, splendid double page map, folding at head, of South and Central America and the modern Southern United States, in best impression, engraved arms of the Emperor, the dedicatee and others, 46 fine engraved illustrations in text, half page or larger, depicting the voyages of discovery and the native peoples at war and peace. Title page with same border to Jean Levy’s “Navigatio in Brasiliam Americae”, constituting the second half of the text, further extensive illustrations especially of torture, executions and cannibalism; printed music and Indian song. Light browning due to use of poorish paper, marginal worm trails to some fifty odd leaves, nowhere near text, a few edges strengthened. A very good, well margined copy in slightly later calf, gilt ruled, spine richly gilt, headband restored, later eps.
Second edition, first issue, of the Latin edition of Theodore de Bry’s great work describing the discovery of Brazil and the most sensational of all early illustrated Americana. Comprising two separate narratives, the first is of two voyages made to Brazil in 1546-48 and 1549-55 by Johann von Staden, here in the Latin translation of Adam Lonicer. The second recounts the story of the Brazilian voyage of 1556-58 by the Frenchman Jean Lery translated into Latin probably by the author. The text concludes with two letters of Nicholas Barre concerning Brazil; he had been a companion of Villegagnon. The various parts are united by a valuable index. The contents does not differ materially from the first edition though there are a few variations, notably that the Adam and Eve plate is omitted from page 144, which is blank. That omission was purposeful. Brazil was no longer being presented at the new Garden of Eden, but as a land of terror.
Von Staden’s accounts of his shipwreck on the land of the infamous Tupinambas had disabused Europeans of their belief that the inhabitants were the legendary dog men, but left them in no doubt that they were torturers and cannibals. De Bry’s exquisite copper plates were all the more shocking for depicting these scenes of barbarity being perpetrated or serenely watched by old ladies, pretty naked maidens and charming children. “For his volume on Brazil [De Bry] fashioned striking engravings based on the woodcuts that had appeared in Staden’s and Lery’s texts and he presented the illustrations alongside the narratives. In contrast to the original works, where the image was subordinate to the text, de Bry’s volumes featured the text as kind of backdrop for the image. The engravings are not only exceptional for their detail but also striking in size, being many times larger than the originals and often occupying nearly a full folio page. De Bry’s illustrations for Brazil, especially those based on scenes of anthropophagy from Staden’s book, were the most sensational to appear in his multi volume series; and its not surprising that they comprise one of the single most powerful iconographies associated with the discovery of the Americas.”, D. Sadlier ‘Brazil Imagined: 1500 to the Present”.
Lery was a more sympathetic and an observant visitor. “[His] account of a year spent living among the Tupinamba tribes of Brazil ranks among the masterpieces of early modern ethnography. The influence of Lery’s book has extended from the sixteenth century essayist Michel de Montainge to the twentieth century anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, who arrived in Brazil with a copy of Lery is his pocket.”, Norton, Anthology of English Literature.
BM. STC. Ger. p.160. Sabin III pp34-35. Church 150. Borba de Moraes p.249. ‘This third part contains the greatest number of accounts of voyages to Brazil.’