Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was a wealthy and world famous illustrator. He is known to have illustrated over 200 books, and his notable works include The Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” While Dore is famous, and although his illustrations still appear in many publications, many people overlook the artist, with the tendency to associate engraving as an old form of art, and not stopping to appreciate who this artist is.
DANTE’S DIVINE COMEDY ILLUSTRATIONS
According to WikiPaintings, “Gustave Dore was a prolific engraver, artist, illustrator, and sculptor, working primarily as a wood and steel engraver.
“He produced over 100,000 sketches in his lifetime, and lived to be 50 years old, averaging 6 sketches per day for each day he lived.
THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER ILLUSTRATIONS
“By the time he died he had also earned over $2 million, living a life of affluence. Even though he was an untrained, self-taught artist, who never used a live model, and who could not sketch from nature, his work is considered some of the most important in the entire engraving art world.
PERRAULT’S FAIRY TALES and FABLES de la FONTAINE
“As a child, young Dore was an avid artist, and earned his way as an illustrator in a Paris bookshop, publishing his first drawings when he was 15 years old. His young age and great talent drew much attention, which led to newspaper and journal articles written about the “child illustrator,” and generated further interest in the artist.
POE’S “THE RAVEN”
“As an illustrator, Dore created engravings for the books of Balzac, Rabelais, Milton, Dante, Edgar Allen Poe, and Lord Byron. He was commissioned to illustrate a version of the English Bible, which was extremely popular, allowing for the foundation of his own gallery, the Dore Gallery. For his work on Dante’s Inferno, he was decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor.
“Although he lived a wealthy life of affluence, received many commissions, and continued to reap the rewards of commercial success, by the end of his life Dore’s illustrations had begun to receive negative reviews. He rarely completed any works with colors, leading to the speculation that he was color blind, and his negative portrayal of subject matter made his works difficult to display. After the death of his mother, who had been is roommate and life time companion, he lost the will to live and died at the age of fifty.”
PARADISE LOST ILLUSTRATIONS
For more about Gustave Dore, check out these sites:
- Gustave Doré’s Dramatic Illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy (openculture.com)
- Dante’s Inferno and contrapasso (scholarsandrogues.com)
- Alberto Martini’s Haunting Illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy (1901-1944) (openculture.com)
- Go Break a Leg, William Blake (illustratornate.wordpress.com)