Timucua Worship of a Column Erected by Laudonnière

Timucua Worship of a Column Erected by Laudonnière

Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, French, Flemish, c.1533–1588
Johann Ludwig Gottfried, German
Theodor de Bry, Belgian, 1528-1598
Work Locations: Germany
Theodor de Bry, Belgian, 1528-1598
Work Locations: Germany
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
ink on paper
Accession Number
Credit Line
Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer

Theodor de Bry after Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, Timucua Worship of a Column Erected by Laudonnière (recto); Fort Caroline (verso), 1655. Engraving; 13¼ ×

7⅞ in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2000.369.

height: 13 1/4 in, 33.6550 cm; width: 7 7/8 in, 20.0025 cm; image height: 5.875 in, 14.9225 cm; image width: 7.5 in, 19.0500 cm; mat height: 20 in, 50.8000 cm; mat width: 16 in, 40.64 cm
top center right corner in graphite: French L (?) Gottfried
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art

During the French expedition to northern Florida in 1562, Jean Ribault erected a stone column emblazoned with the French coat of arms as a marker to indicate the territorial claim to the St. John’s River, near modern Jacksonville. When the French returned two years later, under the leadership of René Goulaine de Laudonnière, they discovered that the column had become the subject of veneration by the local Timucua people, who understood it not as a territorial marker but as a sacred object. The Timucua placed votive offerings of food, scented oils, and bows and arrows at the base of the pillar and ornamented it with garlands.

Athore, son of the Timucua leader Saturiwa, led the French company to the pillar and bent to kiss the coat of arms. The Huguenot Laudonnière followed suit, in hopes of securing friendship with the Timucua. Laudonnière is shown at the right next to Athore, who presents the column to him. A crowd of Timucua men and women in the background kneel in supplication to the column.

Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues took part in the expedition as an artist and recorded this episode in a watercolor on vellum. His watercolors were later purchased and engraved by Theodor de Bry, who published them in the second volume of America (1591). De Bry made subtle changes to Le Moyne’s watercolor, giving Athore more European facial features. This version of the print comes from the 1655 edition of Newe Welt und Americanische Historien (New World and American History) by Johann Ludwig Gottfried, an abridgement of de Bry’s America.

The reverse of this image shows the fort Laudonnière and his men established during their expedition. They constructed the triangular Fort Caroline in the middle of the river, with a granary and an oven at the far end to prevent the thatched roofs of the buildings from catching fire. Fort Caroline – and the French settlement – was short lived. It was destroyed after clashes with the Spanish the following year. The Spanish took over the area and rebuilt their own fort on the same site, which they named San Mateo (Saint Matthew), and continued to occupy it until 1569. As with the image of Ribault’s pillar, this aerial view of Fort Caroline was engraved by de Bry after a watercolor by Le Moyne.

– Kathryn Santner, Frederick and Jan Mayer Fellow of Spanish Colonial Art, 2022

Exhibition History
  • native women worship Jean Ribault's column left on St. John's river near Jacksonville in 1562
  • - Kathryn Santner (2022)