Tuesday, April 25, 2017

1600s Depictions of Native Americans - More Fantasy than Fact

The Chickahominy become New Englishmen By Johann Theodore de Bry after Georg Keller 1619

By Johann Theodore de Bry after Georg Keller
Engraving from book page, 1619
Plate 9 from America, Part 10

Seated on a mat, Captain Samuel Argall negotiates a treaty with the Chickahominy, who were somewhat independent of Powhatan & ruled by a council of elders. One of the elders speaks to the gathered Chickahominy about the treaty, & a killed deer & two birds are presented at lower right. In the background, the colonists receive the benefits of peaceful relations, tribute & trade.

In 1617 the German printer Abelius engaged the artist Georg Keller (1568-1634). to illustrate his translation of Ralph Hamor's A True Discourse of the Present State of Virginia. Hamor's original 1615 London edition had no pictures to copy, so Keller created imaginary scenes, drawn from descriptions in the written narrative. Some details in the pictures derive from the 1590 de Bry prints, but not all. Johann Theodore de Bry, the son & successor of Theodore, issued his translation of Hamor's Present State of Virginia in 1618, in America. For illustration, de Bry simply copied Keller's invented pictures.