Painter in a Savage Land

Written by Miles Harvey
Review by Audrey Braver

This book is subtitled The Strange Saga of the First European Artist in North America. Jacques LeMoyne de Morgues sailed for the New World in 1564 with a French expedition. The purpose was to establish a French colony in “La Florida” in competition with the Spanish. While LeMoyne was the mapmaker, he also documented in paintings and sketches the flora and fauna of the area as well as daily life among the Timucuan Indians who occupied that part of the Florida coast. Upon his return, LeMoyne, a Protestant, found France inhospitable and moved to London where he spent the rest of his life. Before Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions to found the colony of Virginia, he is known to have conferred with LeMoyne.

Mr. Harvey has done a nice job of combining interesting detail with scholarly research that makes what, in other hands, might have been a dry academic treatise into a lively read. He incorporates firsthand accounts from others who were on the same voyage of discovery with LeMoyne and uses woodcuts made from LeMoyne’s paintings to illustrate certain passages.