A Chief of Roanoke

Theodor de Bry (1528–1598) was an engraver, bookseller, and publisher active in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1590 de Bry published Thomas Hariot's account of the English attempt to colonize the New World, the ill-fated Roanoke Colony. De Bry engraved several plates for this work based on watercolors made by John Smith, another member of the 1585 expedition. He went on to publish an ambitious and complicated series of illustrated volumes describing exploration in North and South America, based on a number of European sources. This work, known as the Great Voyages series or de Bry's America, was issued in several editions that continued to be produced by de Bry's widow and his heirs after his death.
The engraved plates in the series represent indigenous people, plants, and animals. They offered Europeans one of the earliest and most accurate visual representations of the inhabitants and environment of the New World. The illustrations circulated widely and were frequently copied and reproduced. For his later editions, For his later editions, De Bry revised his own engravings of John Smith's Virginia subjects that he had published in the 1590 Hariot account, and he used the work of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, a French artist, for the Florida subjects.
A Chief of Roanoke illustrates part one of the Virginia series. It is plate 6 from the second German edition published in 1600.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Bry, Theodor de
original artist
White, John
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
overall: 13 3/8 in x 9 1/2 in; 33.9725 cm x 24.13 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Exploration and Discovery
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Graphic Arts
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Cole, George Watson. A Catalogue of Books Relating to the Discovery and Early History of North and South America, forming a part of the Library of E. D. Church

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