Records of early voyages of exploration consisted primarily of narrative accounts and descriptions contained in ships’ logs, supplemented by hand-drawn charts of the waters, navigational landmarks and hazards, and coastal features. Sketches of birds, animals, vegetation, natives, habitations, and settlements were sometimes made by the captain or other members of the expedition, often as an incidental and unofficial activity. Unfortunately, these original records were frequently lost; those that survived served as source materials for professional cartographers, usually land-based, who created the finished maps and charts.
In later years it became customary to include trained artists as members of exploratory groups. One of the first such artists, Jacques Le Moyne, was a member of the French expedition to Florida in 1564. His paintings included a map of Florida and adjacent areas, and depictions of activities of the French colonists and the Indian natives. After Le Moyne’s death, his paintings were acquired by Theodor de Bry, who made engraved copies of them to illustrate his published account of Le Moyne’s narrative of the French colony. Only one of Le Moyne’s paintings has survived, and his work is now known almost exclusively through the de Bry derivatives.
John White, an accomplished artist, was a member of the first English expedition to Roanoke in 1585, and governor of the second expedition under the sponsorship of Sir Walter Raleigh. His watercolor drawings comprised two maps, numerous portrayals of the Algonquian Indians, their habitations, villages, and customs, and pictures of indigenous fauna and flora. Twenty-three of these watercolors were copied by de Bry as engraved illustrations for his edition of Hariot’s^4 Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, published in 1590. The original watercolors were rediscovered in 1865 and are preserved in the British Library. It is through the widely distributed de Bry volumes, however, that the images came to public attention and were reproduced on maps and other publications.