De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 51, Description of the Beginning of our Next Journey. From the "Little Voyages"

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De BRY, Johann Theodor, (1560-1623) and Johann Israel de Bry (1565-1609). Part III, Plate 51, Description of the Beginning of our Next Journey. From the "Little Voyages"


Plate LI, Beschreibung des Unfangs unse rer widerkeifs
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 June 13, 1597 Van Heemskerck decided it was a good day to prepare everything for depar- ture. The departure itself took place a day later. In the meantime helmsman Willem Barents fell ill.

As a final farewell, Van Heemskerck wrote down his adventures and left his account by the chim- ney. Van Heemskerck had an impressive sense of history - almost three centuries later the house was found intact, including the memoirs of Van Heemskerck and Willem Barents, for whom the sea had already long been named by this point.

This engraving shows the launch of the sloop and the newly built boat. The remaining provisions and household effects were loaded on board. Almost ready for departure after a long, terrible winter on Novaya Zemlya.*

Title: Description of the beginning of our next journey. 

Text: By the time we made our way with great effort and work to the open sea and now reached the time of the year that we slid our boats with provisions and wares gingerly with several sleds to the sea also our two invalids Wilhelm Bernhart and Nicol Andreafen, were brought we divided ourselves into two sections so that in each boat there is the same amount we put ourselves into God's mercy we took to the sea with great desire for our fatherland thanked God the almighty that he again gave us the opportunity to live this hour thus we depart from this barren wild horrible cold island.


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