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De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 46, How we Pulled our Last Sled onto Land and what Befell Us. From the "Little Voyages"

De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 46, How we Pulled our Last Sled onto Land and what Befell Us. From the "Little Voyages"

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De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 46, How we Pulled our Last Sled onto Land and what Befell Us. From the "Little Voyages"


Plate XLVI, Wie wir unsern ieizten Schlitten ans Landt Ichleifften und was damals begegnet
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


October 25, 1596. In this illustration we see how the Dutch pulled their last goods from the stranded ship at the end of August. Some barrels of beer which were left behind appear to have burst from the cold.

Attracted by the food, or simply the presence of people, three polar bears approach. On the left we see a man who has fallen into a rift in the ice. The two other men, Van Heemskerck and De Veer, try to protect him from the bears. Wielding halberds, they manage to deter two bears that have approached. Crew members on the ship try to chase off the third bear.

Title: How we pulled our last sled onto land and what befell us.

Text: When we almost finished our habitation and pulled the last sled with goods from the ship to the house three bears approached us as soon as we recognized them we left the sled/ and started to flee to the ship but one of our men fell through the ice so the bears would have ran toward him they would definitely have caught and dismembered him it was his great luck that the bears followed the group which fled to the ship also two men guarded him with two halberds which they found on the sled. The bears charged toward the ship but backed down when they were greeted with clubs from the people on 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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