In this vibrantly told, meticulously researched book, Miles Harvey reveals one of the most fascinating and overlooked lives in American history. Like The Island of Lost Maps, his bestselling book about a legendary map thief, Painter in a Savage Land is a compelling search into the mysteries of the past. This is the thrilling story of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, the first European artist to journey to what is now the continental United States with the express purpose of recording its wonders in pencil and paint. Le Moyne’s images, which survive today in a series of spectacular engravings, provide a rare glimpse of Native American life at the pivotal time of first contact with the Europeans–most of whom arrived with the preconceived notion that the New World was an almost mythical place in which anything was possible.
Harvey (The Island of Lost Maps) embarks on a fascinating exploration of the obscure life and violent times of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, who arrived in America in 1564, almost half a century before the English at Jamestown. The drawings he left, virtually forgotten until a few years ago, when they began fetching towering prices at Sotheby's, depict in almost photographic detail a now extinct Native American world. Harvey, his curiosity sparked during a visit to Jacksonville, Fla. near the site of Le Moyne's doomed colony of French Protestants uncovered "a tale replete with shipwrecks, mutinies, religious wars, political intrigues, pirate raids, Indian attacks, famines, hurricanes, and mass murders." This book doubles as a narrative of Harvey's own expedition to discover more about his subject and the story of Le Moyne's works in the centuries after his death and their sad fate at the hands of a New York antiquities dealer. Harvey's volume hits the sweet spot for both adventure buffs and history fans. 4 pages of color illus., b&w illus. throughout.
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This insight into early Northern American colonization, or attempted anyway, was just brilliant! To also bring in the history of the artist who rendered the New World for the Europeans, and lived, barely, to bring it back from this brutal civilization to the old world was ingenious! Miles Harvey does it again! I can also suggest you take a look at his first novel, The Island of Lost Maps, one of my favorite books of all time!