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Gustave Doré

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Gustave Doré
Photograph by Nadar, between 1856 and 8
Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré

(1832-01-06)6 January 1832
Strasbourg, France
Died23 January 1883(1883-01-23) (aged 51)
Paris, France
Known forPainting, etching, illustrations
MovementRomanticism, symbolism

Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré (UK: /ˈdɔːr/ DOR-ay, US: /dɔːˈr/ dor-AY, French: [ɡystav dɔʁe]; 6 January 1832 – 23 January 1883) was a French printmaker, illustrator, painter, comics artist, caricaturist, and sculptor. He is best known for his prolific output of wood-engravings illustrating classic literature, especially those for the Vulgate Bible and Dante's Divine Comedy. These achieved great international success, and he became renowned for printmaking, although his role was normally as the designer only; at the height of his career some 40 block-cutters were employed to cut his drawings onto the wooden printing blocks, usually also signing the image.[1]

He created over 10,000 illustrations, the most important of which were copied using an electrotype process using cylinder presses, allowing very large print runs to be published simultaneously in many countries.[2]


Doré by Carolus-Duran (1877)

Doré was born in Strasbourg on 6 January 1832. At the age of 15, Doré began his career working as a caricaturist for the French paper Le journal pour rire.[3] The illustrations of J. J. Grandville have been noted as an influence on his work.[4] Wood-engraving was his primary method at this time.[5] In the late 1840s and early 1850s, he made several text comics, like Les Travaux d'Hercule (1847), Trois artistes incompris et mécontents (1851), Les Dés-agréments d'un voyage d'agrément (1851) and L'Histoire de la Sainte Russie (1854). Doré subsequently went on to win commissions to depict scenes from books by Cervantes, Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, and Dante. He also illustrated "Gargantua et Pantagruel" in 1854.

In 1853 Doré was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron.[6] This commission was followed by additional work for British publishers, including a new illustrated Bible. In 1856 he produced 12 folio-size illustrations of The Legend of The Wandering Jew, which propagated longstanding antisemitic views of the time,[7] for a short poem which Pierre-Jean de Béranger had derived from a novel of Eugène Sue of 1845.[8][9][10]

d'Artagnan on Doré's monument to Alexandre Dumas, père in Paris

In the 1860s he illustrated a French edition of Cervantes's Don Quixote, and his depictions of the knight and his squire, Sancho Panza, became so famous that they influenced subsequent readers, artists, and stage and film directors' ideas of the physical "look" of the two characters.[11] Doré also illustrated an oversized edition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven", an endeavor that earned him 30,000 francs from publisher Harper & Brothers in 1883.[12]

The government of France made him a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1861.[13]

Doré in 1867 by Nadar

Doré's illustrations for the Bible (1866) were a great success, and in 1867 Doré had a major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation of the Doré Gallery in Bond Street, London.[14] In 1869, Blanchard Jerrold, the son of Douglas William Jerrold, suggested that they work together to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had obtained the idea from The Microcosm of London produced by Rudolph Ackermann, William Pyne, and Thomas Rowlandson (published in three volumes from 1808 to 1810).[15] Doré signed a five-year contract with the publishers Grant & Co that involved his staying in London for three months a year, and he received the vast sum of £10,000 a year for the project. Doré was celebrated for his paintings in his day, but his wood-engravings, like those he did for Jerrold, are where he excelled as an artist with an individual vision.[citation needed]

The completed book London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 wood engravings, was published in 1872. It enjoyed commercial and popular success, but the work was disliked by some contemporary British critics, as it appeared to focus on the poverty that existed in parts of London. Doré was accused by The Art Journal of "inventing rather than copying."[16] The Westminster Review claimed that "Doré gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down."[17] But they impressed Vincent van Gogh, who painted a version of the Prisoners' Round in 1890, the year of his death. The book was a financial success, however, and Doré received commissions from other British publishers.[citation needed]

Doré's later work included illustrations for new editions of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton's Paradise Lost, Tennyson's Idylls of the King, The Works of Thomas Hood, and The Divine Comedy. Doré's work also appeared in the weekly newspaper The Illustrated London News.[citation needed]


Doré never married and, following the death of his father in 1849, he continued to live with his mother, illustrating books until his death of a heart attack in Paris on January 23, 1883, following a short illness.[18] At the time of his death Doré was working on illustrations for an edition of Shakespeare's plays.[19]


Doré was a prolific artist; thus the following list of works is not complete and it does not include his paintings, sculptures, and many of his journal illustrations:

Date Author Work Volumes / Format Illustrations Publisher Ref
1854 Gustave Doré Histoire pittoresque dramatique et caricaturale de la Sainte Russie, d'après les chroniqueurs et historiens Nestor Nikan Sylvestre Karamsin Ségur etc. 1 vol. 500 Paris: de Bry [20][21]
1854 Rabelais Oeuvres contenant la vie de Gargantua et celle de Pantagruel ... 1 vol. 4to. Frontis. & 15 J.Bry Ainé, Paris [22]
1855 Honoré de Balzac Les Contes Drôlatiques 425 Société Générale de la Libraire, and in Le Journal pour Tous [23]
1855 Jules Gérard La Chasse au Lion 1 vol. 12mo. 11 Librairie Nouvelle [24]
1856 Fierabras d'Alexandrie, Légende Nationale traduite par Mary Lafon 1 vol in 8vo 123 Librairie Nouvelle [25]
1856 Victor Percival Mémoires d'un Jeune Cadet, par Victor Percival 48 [25]
1856 La Légende du Juif Errant 1 vol. grand in folio 12 Image:Wandering jew title page.jpg Michel Lévy [25]
1857[26] Dante Alighieri L'Enfer 75[27] [28]
1857 autumn Ed. de La Bédollière Nouveau Paris, Histoire de ses 20 Arrondissements 1 vol in 4to 150 Barba [29]
1857 autumn Valéry Vernier Aline, Journal d'un Jeune Homme one large page Dentu [29]
1860–1862 Thomas Mayne Reid L'Habitation du Désert 1 vol. in 16mo 60 Hachette [29]
1860–1862 Ann S. Stevens La Fille du Grand Chieftain 1 vol. 15 [29]
1860–1862 M. V. Victor Flêche d'Or 1 vol. 13 [29]
1860–1862 E. S. Ellis L'Ange des Frontières 1 vol. 10 [29]
1860–1862 N. W. Buxted Les Vierges de la Forêt 1 vol. 10 [29]
1860 William Shakespeare The Tempest 1 vol. in 4to (London) [29]
1861 Les Figures du Temps 1 vol. in 12mo (Paris) [29]
1861 Plouvier and Vincent Les Chansons d'Autrefois in 12mo Coulon and Pineau, Paris [29]
1861 Edmond About[30] Le Roi des Montagnes 1 vol. in 8vo 157 Hachette and Co., Paris [29]
1862 Saintine Les Mythologies du Rhin 1 vol. in 8vo 165 Hachette and Co., Paris [29]
1862 L'Abbé Léon Godard L'Espagne, Mœurs et Paysages 2 vols in 8vo 4 Image:Moeurs et paysages title page.jpg Alfred Mame et Fils, Tours Image:Moeurs et paysages title page.jpg or Paris[29] [29]
1862 Malte-Brun[31] Les États Unis et le Mexique 1 vol. in 4to Brun, Paris [29]
1862 Histoire aussi intéressante qu'invraisemblable de l'intrépide Capitaine Castagnette, neveu de l'Homme à la Tête de Bois 1 vol. in 4to 43 Hachette [29]
1862 Charles Perrault Les Contes de Perrault 11 [32]
1862 Aventures du Baron de Münchausen, traduction nouvelle par Théophile Gautier fils 1 vol. (Paris, Charles Furne) [29]
1863 M. Épiné Légende de Croquemitaine 1 vol. in 4to 177 Hachette [29]
1863 Gastineau La Chasse au Lion et à la Panthère 1 vol. in 8vo Hachette and Co. [29]
1863 Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote de la Mancha translation by Louis Viardot 2 vols. folio 370 Hachette and Co., Paris, and Cassell and Co., London [29]
1863 Charles Perrault Les Contes de Perrault or in Spanish Los Cuentos de Perrault 100+ Hetzels. in Spanish by Ledouse [29]
1865 Gastineau De Paris en Afrique 1 vol. in 12mo (Paris) [29]
1865 A. Masse L'Histoire d'un Minute 1 vol., 12mo (Paris) [29]
1866 Victor Hugo Travailleurs de la Mer Sampson Low and Co., London [29][33]
1865 E. Edgar Cressy and Poictiers 1 vol. in 8vo 50+ (London) [29]
1865 Thomas Moore L'Épicurien (French translation) in 8vo (Paris) [29]
1865 Tom Hood Fairy Realm in folio (London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler) [29]
1865 Quatrelles Le Chevalier Beautemps grand in 8vo (Paris) [34]
1865 Chateaubriand Atala 2 vols, grand folio 80 Hachette Edition [29]
1866 Théophile Gautier Le Capitaine Fracasse 1 vol. grand in 8vo 60 Charpentier [29]
1866 G. La Bédollière Histoire de la Guerre en Mexique in 4to (Paris) [29]
1866 Dante Alighieri The Vision of Hell London, Cassell, Petter, and Galpin [29]
1867 Dante Alighieri Il Purgatorio ed il Paradiso Hachette and Co. [29]
1866[35] X. B. Saintine Le Chemin des Écoliers 1 vol. in 8vo 450 Image:Le chemin des ecoliers title page.jpg (not all by Doré) Hachette and Co. [29]
1866 La Grande Bible de Tours, according to the Vulgate, new translation 2 vols. grand in folio 241 Mame, Tours; Cassell and Co., England [29]
1866 John Milton Paradise Lost 50 Plates Cassell and Co. [29]
1867 La Bédollière La France et la Russie (Paris) [29]
1867 Les Fables de Lafontaine 2 vols. in folio 8 large and 250 small plates Hachette and Co. [29]
1867 Les Pays-bas et la Belgique in 8vo (Paris) [29]
1870 Thomas Hood (Poems) 2 vols. in folio 9 Plates Ward and Lock, London [29]
1873 Rabelais New edition of Rabelais 2 vols. in folio Paris : Garnier; London: Chatto and Windus [29]
1876 Louis Énault London 1 vol. in 4to 174 wood-engravings Hachette and Co. [29]
1874 Baron Ch. Davilliers L'Espagne in 4to 309 wood-engravings Hachette and Co.; London: Sampson Low and Co. [29]
1875 Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in folio 39 engraved plates and 3 vignettes London: Doré Gallery [36]
1875 Michaud Histoire des Croisades 2 vol. medium folio 100 grand compositions Paris: Hachette and Co. [29]
Alfred Tennyson Idylls of the King [29]
1877 Ariosto Orlando Furioso 36 drawings Hachette and Co. (London: Ward and Lock) [29]
1884 Edgar Allan Poe The Raven 26 steel engravings[citation needed] London: Sampson Low and Co., New York: Harper and Co. [37]
1890 Gustave Doré The Doré Bible Gallery Illustrated by Gustave Doré Philadelphia [18]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Doré's work received mixed reviews from contemporary art critics, but he was widely acclaimed by the general public. He was adored by many writers and poets, who felt he "brought their wildest dreams and fantasies to life".[38] Théophile Gautier for example stated "Nobody better than this artist can give a mysterious and deep vitality to chimeras, dreams, nightmares, intangible shapes bathed in light and shade, weirdly caricatured silhouettes and all the monsters of fantasy."[38] H.P. Lovecraft drew inspiration from Doré's Rime of the Ancient Mariner illustrations in his formative years.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Gustave Doré at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ Mayor, Hyatt A., Prints and People, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Princeton, 1971, no. 677, ISBN 0691003262
  3. ^ Lyons, Martin (2011). Books: A Living History. Los Angeles: Getty Publications. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-60606-083-4.
  4. ^ Rose, Cynthia. 2020. J. J. Grandvill: A Matter of Line and Death. The Comics Journal. (accessed 19 July 2022)
  5. ^ "Books: A Living History" by Martin Lyons
  6. ^ Complete Works of Lord Byron illustrated by Ch. Mettais, Bocourt, G. Doré. Published by J. Bry, Paris, 1853. The version at archive.org is in French. The illustrations are not attributed to any one of the three named on the title-page. A handwritten note at page 5 remarks that another edition of 1856 made no mention of Doré among the illustrators, but his designs still appeared in the book.
  7. ^ Richard S. Levy, Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Volume 1, Oxford 2005, p 186
  8. ^ Zafran, Eric (2007). Rosenblum, Robert; Small, Lisa (eds.). "Fantasy and Faith: The Art of Gustave Dore". Yale University Press.
  9. ^ "eBay". 22 January 2013. Archived from the original on 22 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Willis's Price Current: A Catalogue of Superior Second Hand Books Ancient and Modern ... to which are Added a List of New Publications and Current Notes for the Month". Willis and Sotheran. 21 January 2018 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "Gustave Doré". lambiek.net.
  12. ^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. p. 252. ISBN 0-8018-5730-9
  13. ^ Kerr, David (2004). "Doré, (Louis Auguste) Gustave (1832–1883), illustrator". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/67162. Retrieved 2020-01-29. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  14. ^ McQueen, A. "Gustave Doré," in Nineteenth-Century Art, Highlights from the Tanenbaum Collection, London: 2015, p. 54.
  15. ^ "Introduction to The Microcosm of London (1808-10) – Romantic London". www.romanticlondon.org.
  16. ^ Ackyroyd, Peter (2005). London: A Pilgrimage (introduction). Anthem Press. pp. xix.
  17. ^ Chapman, J (1873). The Westminster Review, Vol 99. p. 341.
  18. ^ a b Doré, Gustave (1890). The Doré Bible Gallery, Illustrated by Gustave Dore. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus. p. vii. OCLC 636024924.
  19. ^ Lyons, Martin (2011). Books: A Living History. J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 135.
  20. ^ indyworld.com Archived 2013-11-26 at the Wayback Machine Gustave Doré's «Holy Russia» by Bill Kartalopoulos. INDY Magazine, Summer 2004
  21. ^ David Kunzle (1983). "Gustave Dore's History of Holy Russia: Anti-Russian Propaganda from the Crimean War to the Cold War". The Russian Review. 42 (3). Russian Review, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Jul., 1983), pp. 271-299: 271–299. doi:10.2307/129823. JSTOR 129823.
  22. ^ Eleanor Garvey, A Catalogue of an Exhibition of the Philip Hofer Bequest, 1988.
  23. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré.", page 183. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885.
  24. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré.", page 179. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885.
  25. ^ a b c Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré.", page 207. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885.
  26. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré", pages 215. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885. Roosevelt states that "In Doré's catalogue 'L'Inferno' figures amongst the works of 1857, and I shall therefore speak of it as belonging to that year's collection, although it was not brought out until 1860."
  27. ^ The vision of hell. Translated by Rev. Henry Francis Cary, M.A. and illustrated with the seventy-five designs of Gustave Doré. Retrieved 24 December 2022 – via Gutenberg.
  28. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré", pages 212-227. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885.
  29. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré", pages 241-243. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885.
  30. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré", pages 63. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885. Gustave Doré, Edmond About, and H. Taine were more than contemporaries: they knew each other from college. Roosevelt quotes Doré, "...from that date [1847] until 1850, I occupied myself—sometimes well and sometimes badly—in finishing my studies at the Lycée Charlemagne. It was there that I was so fortunate as to have Edmond About and H. Taine for fellow-collegians."
  31. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré", pages 241. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885. Roosevelt attributes authorship to "Malted": "'Les États Unis et la Mexique,' by Malted (sic) (Brun, Paris, 1862), 1 vol. in 4to." She is most likely referring to either Conrad Malte-Brun or his son, Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun, both noted French Geographers.
  32. ^ Opie, Iona and Peter. The Classic Fairy Tales. 1974. Oxford University Press. p. 134.
  33. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré", page 242. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885. Roosevelt implies, though does not specifically state, that a French publisher published this volume in 1865. For one, she places this reference with the other books published in 1865, for another, she uses the word also when mentioning that Sampson Low brought out a copy in London in 1866. Additionally, an English publication would most likely be translated and have a title of Toilers of the Sea. Roosevelt's line reads thus: "Victor Hugo's 'Travailleurs de la Mer', also in 1866, brought out by Sampson Low and Co., in London."
  34. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré.", page 242. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885. Roosevelt states that the preface was written by Alex. Dumas fils
  35. ^ Although Blanche Roosevelt lists this book as being published in 1866, here Image:Le chemin des ecoliers title page.jpg is the title-page of an edition published five years earlier, with Gustave Doré drawings. Roosevelt is most likely mistaken.
  36. ^ Leblanc, Henri (1931). Catalogue de l'oeuvre complet de Gustave Doré, Paris: Ch. Bosse, p. 74.
  37. ^ Roosevelt, Blanche: "Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré.", page 488. Cassell & Company, Limited, New York, 1885.
  38. ^ a b Milton, John (2005). "Introduction". Paradise Lost. London: Arcturus. ISBN 9781841932514.

Further reading[edit]

  • Delorme, Rene (1879). Gustave Doré. Paris: Librairie d'Art.(80 illustrations, earliest photogravures of Dore paintings)
  • Roosevelt, Blanche (1885). Life and Reminiscence of Gustave Doré. New York: Cassell & Co., Ltd.(141 illustrations)
  • Jerrold, Blanchard (1891). The Life of Gustave Doré. London: W. H. Allen & Co., Ltd.(138 illustrations)
  • Valmy-Baysse, J. (1930). Gustave Doré – L'Art et la Vie. Paris: Editions Marcel Seheur.(314 illustrations)
  • Deze, Louis (1930). Gustave Doré – Bibliographie et catalogue complet de l'oeuvre. Paris: Editions Marcel Seheur.(103 illustrations)
  • LeBlanc, Henri (1931). Catalogue de l'oeuvre complet de Gustave Doré. Paris: Ch. Bosse.(30 illustrations)
  • Farner, Konrad (1963). Gustave Doré der Industrialisierte Romantiker ((2V) ed.). Dresden: Verlag der Kunst.(521 illustrations, reprinting most of the Delorme photogravures)
  • Richardson, Joanna (1980). Gustave Doré. A Biography. London: Cassell.
  • Gustave Doré 1832–1883. Strasbourg: Musée d'Art Moderne. 1983.(exhibition book: 591 illustrations)
  • Renonciat, Annie (1983). La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Doré. Paris: ACR Edition.(343 illustrations)
  • Malan, Dan (1995). Gustave Doré, Adrift on Dreams of Splendor. St. Louis: MCE Publishing Co.(500 illustrations)
  • Fantasy & Faith: the Art of Gustave Doré. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2007. (exhibition book: 250 illustrations, 40 in full-color, sometimes incorrectly listed as, "40 b/w, 120 color illustrations")
  • Kaenel, Philippe (2014). Doré: Master of Imagination. Paris: Flammarion. ISBN 978-2-08-131643-0. (catalog of the exhibition held at Musée d'Orsay and National Gallery of Canada, 335 pages)
  • Bibliographie de la France (Journal General de l'Imprimerie et de la Librairie) (annual listing of the books published in France)

External links[edit]