Alonso de Ovalle (1603-1651) from Chile joined the Jesuit order of priests as a young man and studied theology and philosophy and did missionary work among the native indians. He was sent to Europe to obtain resources and monks to continue the missionary work. When he got there he was astonished to find that most people in Europe had not heard of his beloved Chile.
So de Ovalle wrote an historical 'encyclopedic' book about his country. Histórica Relación del Reyno de Chile was first published in latin in 1646 and translated into Italian the following year. Although he consulted widely for factual material, the majority of the work consists of his describing all that he knew in relation to the geography and minerals and natives and customs and flora/fauna and the colonial military powers of Chile.
I didn't note any information about the illustrations. I'm not even sure if they were issued when the book was first published. The imagery is striking (when it's not obviously filched from traditional renaissance sources) and not overly positive in its representation of the indians. The Christ on a tree motif is surreal and I wonder if it's an original for this work, if anyone knows? [The titles of each illustration are in the image URLs]
- Histórica Relación del Reyno de Chile is presented online by Memoria Chilena - the first 2 links in the final paragraph on this page contain the major illustrations (translation). The site itself is quite worthy of a wander; they have a modest collection of books and images posted, and I will surely return there to check it out further.
- A short review from the José Durand library at Notre Dame University.