Americae pars, Nunc Virginia dicta
Bry, Theodor de, 1528-1598 (Engraver)
White, John, active 1585-1593 (Artist, Cartographer, Surveyor)
Harriot, Thomas, 1560-1621 (Surveyor)
Frankfurt : Theodor de Bry
Date created
Type of resource
Still image
Maps (documents)
Historical maps
Engravings (prints)
Map/Globe, Image
Digital origin
reformatted digital
Americae pars, Nunc Virginia dicta began as a sketch when British mathematician Thomas Harriot and Elizabethan artist John White explored newly chartered Virginia by longboat c. 1585. White created a loose graphite sketch of the coastline as well as a painted watercolor edition complete with names of local Native American tribes. Fearing a leak of information to rival Spaniards, White's cartography was never published in England; instead, Flemish engraver Theodor de Bry recreated White's map for his book America (1590) in Frankfurt, Germany. Titled Americae pars, Nunc Virginia dicta, de Bry's copperplate engraving was widely circulated throughout Europe as pro-colonization propaganda. Later hailed as one of the best maps of the sixteenth century, Americae pars, Nunc Virginia dicta influenced later cartographers such as John Smith.
De Bry strategically portrays the New World with an abundance of land, food, and friendly Native American tribes, seeking to entice Europeans to consider colonizing Virginia or offering their patronage. In comparison to White's original watercolor, this copperplate engraving reveals extensive revision, including detailed place names as described by Harriot and White. Notably, the map includes the first known mentions of the Chesapeake Bay ("Chesipooc Sinus") and the island of Hatteras ("Hatorask"). Americae pars, Nunc Virginia dicta prominently features the island of Roanoke ("Roanoc"), the site of the lost colony of British settlers who vanished mysteriously between 1587 and 1590. Today, de Bry's map of "Virginia" is recognized as a depiction of the Outer Banks of present-day North Carolina.
To create a dynamic composition, de Bry rotates the coastline of Virginia, rendering west as north. The unusual orientation of the Outer Banks mimics the view that Europeans would receive when sailing west to reach the New World. De Bry's map postulates much farther inland than White's original, producing a balanced composition. Though White's river systems are surprisingly accurate, De Bry illustrates snakelike forms with jagged ends, thickly shadowed to create contrast. In the monochrome copperplate engraving, de Bry uses standardized symbols for trees, ships, and even a fantastical whale that reappears in his adaptation of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues' Floridae Americae Provinciae. A lack of latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates suggests that neither White nor de Bry primarily trained as cartographers, despite their evident skills. With its striking composition, De Bry's Americae pars captures the rugged, promising land of the New World.
Related item
Early American and European Maps
Subjects and keywords
Early American Maps
Age of Exploration
North Carolina
Roanoke Island (N.C.)
Hatteras Island (N.C.)
Chesapeake Bay (Md. and Va.)
Discoveries in geography
Permanent URL
Northeastern University Library
Use and reproduction
No Copyright. The organization that has made the Item available believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information. http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/


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