Synopses & Reviews
By the end of the sixteenth century, Sir Francis Drake had made at least four and perhaps as many as eight voyages to the West Indies. He was known to have painted much of what he encountered, although none of his own work survives. He was also known to have had French Huguenots on board, and from the hand of one or more of them came the watercolours and accompanying texts of an astonishingly beautiful manuscript, known as the Histoire naturelle des Indes and now held in
the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.
This extraordinary manuscript, here presented in full-colour facsimile with English translations, is a haunting contemporary record of early European encounters with the Americas. This was not the virgin land Drake expected to find but one already shaped and overlaid by two sophisticated cultures, one
European (Spanish), the other the now virtually extinct indigenous 'Indians'.
Nearly two hundred paintings document plants, animals, fish and birds, as well as daily life and work among the inhabitants, every thing from diving for pearls and mining for gold and silver to wedding rituals and preparation for childbirth.
Handsomely produced, this is a wonderfully vivid panorama of early European
perceptions of the New World.