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De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 38, Sketch of the Roads of Nassau with All Detail. From the "Little Voyages"

De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 38, Sketch of the Roads of Nassau with All Detail. From the "Little Voyages"

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De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 38,  Sketch of the Roads of Nassau with All Detail. From the "Little Voyages"


Plate XXXVIII, Ubrisder Strassen Nassau mit al ler gelegenheit
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


On July 2, 1595, seven ships in total, two from Amsterdam, two from Zeeland, two from Enkhuizen and one from Rotterdam, sailed from the Texel Roads, Texel being an island off the north coast of Holland. This was the second attempt by helmsman Willem Barents to reach Asia via the North Pole. The first attempt, one year earlier, was halted at the most northerly point of Novaya Zemlya, at the height ofthe Orange Islands. Upon the return to Amsterdam, there was once again interest in a second journey. The hypothesis was that the passage via Vaygach, also called the Nassau Strait, would prove successful. Here we see a depiction of the seven ships arriving at the passage near Vaygach in mid August 1595.

A few days later the crew put in at Traen Bay (from the Dutch word for whale oil, also called 'train oil' in English), thus named because they found much whale oil there, from the whales that were caught by the local population. Barents felt Traen Bay was a good location to go ashore. We therefore see a depiction of the crew exploring the land on August21 (the area northof the Strait of Vaygach). Two days later they encoun- tered the local inhabitants, with whom they became friends and exchanged geese and knowl- edge. They told the Dutch that in 9 to 10 weeks, the great sea that you came upon when you sailed through the straits would be frozen solid, so that you could walk as far as Tartary over the ice. Two of these local inhabitants boarded the Dutch ship, where they were offered pickled herring.

On August 31 Barents called at the southern coast of Vaygach, where the explorers encountered 'savages.' Here we see these savages depicted with their sleds and elk.*

Title: Sketch of the streets of Nassau with all detail. 

Text: The street or strait of the sea Nassau are stated in this map shown here when we set foot on land in the Traen Bay there were 54 people who went into the land their purpose was to find other men but there was nobody just several sleds covered with fox reindeer bear and other animal furs loaded with fish lard and other wares we also saw footsteps of the humans and the deer. Finally after wandering around and finding nobody we went back to the ship.


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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