Narrative of Le Moyne, an Artist who Accompanied the French Expedition to Florida Under Laudonnière, 1564


Great collections of travel narratives were published in Europe in the second half of the 16th century, reflecting more than a century of European effort to take possession of the New World, both materially and intellectually. A series of travel narratives, known today as “Great and Small Voyages,” was published in Frankfurt from 1590 to 1634 by the print shop of Theodor de Bry. This collection was distinguished by the importance and the quality of its intaglio illustrations, engraved in copper plate, and produced for the most part using authentic models. The second volume of “Great Voyages” appeared in 1591 and was devoted to Florida. In addition to the accounts by the explorers Jean Ribault and René Goulaine de Laudonnière, it contained a series of 42 engravings based on drawings and watercolors executed on location by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues (circa 1533‒88), a Protestant painter from Dieppe. De Morgues accompanied Laudonnière to Florida in 1564 and escaped the massacre of French colonists by a Spanish armada the following year. His engravings are the only surviving visual testimony to an Indian nation that is now extinct, the Timucua Indians of Florida, with whom the French sought an alliance at the time of their attempted settlement. A dozen drawings were devoted to the countries explored by the French; a second series concerned Timucua warfare and rites; and the last series illustrated the customs and organization of their society. Accompanied by brief explanatory texts, these engravings are exceptional ethnographic documents regarding one of the vanished peoples of the New World.

Last updated: November 20, 2015