Reporting on the New World
This engraving from a 1590 second edition of Thomas Hariot’s A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia depicts different methods of catching fish.
Thomas Hariot. A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia. Frankfurt am Main, Johann Wechel for Theodor de Bry, . Folger call number STC 12786.
A quiet day’s fishing in the New World is depicted in these pages from the Folger’s 1590 second edition of Thomas Hariot’s A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia.
Hariot, a mathematician, served as scientific adviser to the 1585–86 Roanoke Island expedition sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh. During the expedition, he worked closely with the English artist John White in mapping the region and recording information on its plants, animals, and mineral resources, as well as the local population of southeastern Algonquian Indians. On the expedition’s return, Hariot’s report was published with engravings by Theodor de Bry based on White’s drawings.
Here, in Hariot’s chapter “Their manner of fishynge in Virginia,” an engraving depicts methods of catching fish that include nets, interlocking traps, and, in the shallows, the use of spears. Omitting no detail of the watery environment, de Bry renders crabs, turtles, fish, and eels in exquisite detail below the surface of the water.