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De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 50, How we Prepare the Way Thereof we Dragged our Ship and Wares into the Sea. From the "Little Voyages"

De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 50, How we Prepare the Way Thereof we Dragged our Ship and Wares into the Sea. From the "Little Voyages"

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De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 50, How we Prepare the Way Thereof we Dragged our Ship and Wares into the Sea. From the "Little Voyages"


Plate L, Wie wir den weg zurichten/dardrch wir unser Schiff und Bahren in das Meer Ichleissten
From Part III of Johann Theodor de Bry (1561-1623) and Johann Isreal de Bry's (1565-1609) Orientalische Indien (“Little Voyages”), Dritter Theil indiae orientalis...Frankfurt: 1599 (first edition)
Engraving with original, early 17th century hand color heightened with gold on laid paper; paper dimensions: approximately: 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
Printed by Matthias Becker
van Groesen 52


June 12, 1597. After six days of hard work, the boat, largely built from the dismantled old ship, was ready to be launched. Not everyone was involved in the construction of the boat. Some worked to move the items from the house to the water's edge. Everything of value was well packed, especially the merchandise that was left over.

In the illustration we see the entire habitat of those who spent the winter on Novaya Zemlya. On the right in the background is the Kept House, their shelter for ten long months. In the center is the ship that became stuck in the ice at the end of August the previous year. In the left foreground we see how the Dutch leveled the path along which they hauled the old sloop and the new boat to water. A curious polar bear, which almost killed one of the men, was shot dead during the undertaking.*

Title: How we prepare the way thereof we dragged our ship and wares into the sea. 

Text: After we finished our boats so that we can sail away with them we found the way to the sea mountainous and uneven thus before we wanted to bring the boats to the sea had to even out the path with shovels picks axes which caused us not a slight amount of effort and work. When we were working our best a big lean bear approached us swimming out of the sea we shot him down knocked his teeth out and left him half dead.


Documenting Gerrit de Veer's Journal of Three Dutch voyages to reach the East Indies by the North (1594- 1597).


In 1596 helmsman Willem Barents undertook a third attempt to reach Asia from the Netherlands by sailing via the North Pole. There was reportedly a large open sea beyond the island of Novaya Zemlya. Once you passed this, and headed back to the south, you would presumably emerge near Japan and China.

Barents' first attempt involved navigating along the northern side of Novaya Zemlya, the second along the southern side of that island, via Vaygach. Both attempts had to be abandoned because of the advancing ice.

While seven ships full of merchandise had sailed during the second journey, now for the third attempt, the expedition was more prudent: the main concern was exploring the sea route, trade was  secondary. Only two  ships, both from Amsterdam, sailed on May 18, 1596, this time once again via the northern side of Novaya Zemlya.

Willem Barents was helmsman on the ship captained by 29-year-old Jacob  van  Heemskerck. Captain of the second ship was merchant Jan Cornelisz Rijp. Barents and Rijp soon clashed over the route to follow. The northern route championed by Rijp, which had also been indicated by cartographer Plancius, won out. Although they discovered two islands, Bear Island and Spitsbergen, the first leg was a failure. They came up against an impenetrable layer of ice. Barents wanted to fol- low the northeasterly route. Rijp wasn't interested and went his own way. When he once again hit pack ice, he turned homeward. Barents and Heemskerck headed towards the northern point of Novaya Zemlya. The expedition was to be a disaster, but thanks to the spectacular overwintering of Willem Barents and his crew, under abominable conditions, this journey took on epic proportions in the illustrious history of exploration.

Not long after the return of the survivors in 1598, the story of the adventure was published, penned by Gerrit de Veer, who had been on both the second and third journey with Barents.*


*Research provided by Martine Gosselink, head of the History department at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Netherlands.

**Translated from original German by Karl Nesseler.

Description compiled by Erik Brockett who is pleased to provide additional information relating to this or other examples of the work of Johann Theodor de Bry available at Arader Galleries. He can be contacted at

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