Scientist of the Day - Johann Theodor de Bry
Johann Theodor de Bry, a German engraver and printer, died Jan. 31, 1623, at the age of 61. His father, Theodor de Bry, was also a printer and engraver, whose best-known publishing effort was the America series, also called the Grand Voyages, which began in 1590 with Thomas Harriot’s A Briefe and True Report on the New Found Land of Virginia, with engravings by de Bry based on drawings by John White. The series continued on for 13 volumes. We do not have Harriot's book, or any of the America series, in our Library, although there is a beautiful set not far away, in the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. We did a post on White just last year, where you can see some of the engravings the elder de Bry executed and printed. Johann Theodor helped his father with some of the engravings for the early volumes, and when Johann died in 1598, the younger engraver and his brother (who died in 1609) took over and completed the set.
The younger de Brys also published another set, the Petite Voyages, containing narratives of travels to the East Indies (called petite, not because the voyages were smaller, but because the volumes were shorter). Johann also published a very popular Florilegium (1612), with splendid engravings of flowers, which we do not have in our collections (florilegia were distinguished from herbals in that they were not concerned with the medicinal properties of plants, but rather with the visual appeal of the flowers). I have seen several copies of the Florilegium; it is a beautiful work especially when uncolored, so that the engraving stands out.