Object Record

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Collection Art-2D Collection
Catalog Number 2010.25.11
Object Name Print
Description "A Chief of Roanoke," c. 1590, hand-colored engraving by Theodor de Bry based on a watercolor painting by John White.

De Bry's engravings were published in Frankfurt in his series, "Grand Voyages." Volume I (1590) paired de Bry's engravings with a reissue of "A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia," written in 1588 by Thomas Harriot, who accompanied John White and approximately 600 colonists to Roanoke in 1585. Harriot's description of his year at Roanoke, was intended to serve, in part, as a justification for further colonizing efforts.

This image has the front and rear view of a Native American chief from Roanoke Island standing on the shore of a body of water with a fishing weir and two small fishing boats.

English translation of German text:


The chiefs of the island and of the town of Roanoke wear their hair cut in a coxcomb on top, but the rest they allow to flow long, and tie it in a knot at the nape of their necks. They string pearls on a thread and hang them in their ears, and on their arms they wear bracelets of pearl or small copper or bone beads, which they call minsal. They do not paint or pumice themselves, but as a sign of honor and authority wear a chain of large pearls or copper or polished bone beads around their necks; a copper plate is hung from the waist to the thighs. They cloak themselves, as the women do, in a handsomely dressed and fringed deerskin. When they walk or talk they cross their arms one above the other as a sign of wisdom.

The island of Roanoke is very pleasant, and the waters surrounding it abound in fish.

Title A Chief of Roanoke
Date c. 1590
Role of Creator Artist
Creator Bry, Theodor de
Role of Creator 2 Copy After
Creator 2 White, John
Medium ink
Material paper
Technique engraving
Dimensions H-11 W-9 inches
Place of Origin Europe/Germany/Frankfurt
Subjects Explorers
Expeditions & surveys
Native American
Clothing & dress
Relation Show Related Records...