“Grand Voyages: Volume I,” Theodore de Bry (Flemish, 1528-1598), c.1590, hand-colored engravings, gift of Terry White, 2010.25.11-14.
These engravings made by Theodore de Bry depict Native Americans as early European explorers and settlers saw them. The selected portraits depict two chiefs, the coast of Virginia, two young Native American women, and a noble Native American women with a small girl. De Bry’s images were created to accompany Thomas Harriot’s “A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia.” Harriot accompanied the infamous British explorer and artist John White who spend time as the governor of the Roanoke colony and depicted Native Americans and colony life. Early European artists, like White, usually depicted Native Americans with the classical Greco-Roman bodies that they were trained to do. This resulted in a inaccurate and somewhat glorified conception of Native groups and the stereotype of the “noble savage.” It is also worth noting that de Bry never visited the Americas. Thus, early European images of Native Americans were circulated despite ever being reconfirmed and perhaps aided in the justification of colonization.