Theodor de Bry

By BRY, Theodor de, 1725 

Theodorus de Bry Leodinensis

Art & Architecture
  • Author: BRY, Theodor de
  • Publication place: [Nuremberg
  • Publisher: Haeredes Johann Daniel Tauberi
  • Publication date: 1725].
  • Physical description: Engraved portrait, some minor spotting.
  • Dimensions: 298 by 183mm (11.75 by 7.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 17781


An early self-portrait by goldsmith and engraver, Theodor de Bry (1528–1598). In Antwerp, where as a Calvinist he was welcome, De Bry became a member of the goldsmith’s guild alongside members including Gerard de Jode and Philip Galle. After making these useful contacts, he began to turn his attentions to engraving and printmaking. In this capacity, he travelled to England and later to Frankfurt, where he produced his own collections of travel accounts, including the important Petits Voyages, or India Orientalis’, and Grands Voyages or India Occidentalis’. His work was continued by his sons Johann Theodor and Johann Israel, as well as his son-in-law Matthäus Merian the Elder. In addition to geographical and cartographical work, de Bry also engraved numerous portraits of influential figures, including himself!

In 1597, at the age of 69, de Bry engraved a self-portrait, a genre which remained relatively rare at the time. The engraving shows his upper body, one hand holding a pair of compasses and the other a skull, set in an oval frame containing his name and the year. The present example of de Bry’s portrait has been copied in part from the original, cutting out his arms and presenting only a bust. It has an architectural frame and Latin text below the image describing de Bry as a bookseller and engraver of Frankfurt. It also notes that the portrait is from the collection of Friedrich Roth-Scholtz, a German bookseller, editor and publisher, in whose Icones Virorum” (1725) the engraved plate was included.