Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Other Side of Gustave Doré

When I think of the work of Gustave Doré, I usually think of the moody black and white engravings from the Bible and the Divine Comedy that appeared in the Dover reprint editions.
So I was pleasantly surprised to discover a broader scope of his talents in the current issue of Illustration Magazine (Issue #48). 

The article by Gary Land has 40 illustrations. There are some of the classic engraved black and white pieces, but most of the images are in color, including this wonderfully strange portrait of a grimacing Pierrot, painted in watercolor and gouache. 

Publisher Dan Zimmer told me: "I tried to focus on showing color works, and things that were new to me, as I assumed they would probably be new to many other readers as well."

Doré, Souvenir of Loch Lomond, 1875
Doré was largely written off by the critics and historians because he was from outside of Paris, and he was a child prodigy who got started illustrating very early. But he was painting all along, and some of his landscapes are reminiscent of the lyrical landscapes of the Barbizon painters or the Hudson River School. 

La Siesta, Memory of Spain, 1868 by Doré 

Many of the published Doré engravings were based on his fully realized paintings. Because of the reach of his published art, he was admired worldwide, including by American illustrators such as Howard Chandler Christy, who said,
"Gustave Doré! What a thrill this name meant to me as a small boy on an Ohio farm, where the only art news to be had came to us through books and magazines. Harper's and Century Magazine were the publications of note then, and from time to time they would reproduce some of the great paintings of the masters....I came to know the works of that great genius Gustave Doré—Doré who could picture both Heaven and Hell with such tremendous bigness and unlimited imagination, giving the impression of thousands of figures on one canvas, above and below—human beings floating, falling, tumbling, flying through space—Doré, the greatest one of his kind the world has ever known." 
Illustration Magazine
The Doré Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy (Dover Pictorial Archives)
The Dore Gallery: His 120 Greatest Illustrations (Dover Pictorial Archives)
Gustave Dore 1832-1883: Master of Imagination


Russell Dickerson said...

The Denver Museum of Art features his painting, " La Famille du Saltimbanque: L'Enfant Blesse (The Family of Street Acrobats: the injured child)". I also had no idea that he was a painter, but I've loved his engravings for as long as I can remember. When I saw the painting at the museum, I quite literally stopped in my tracks and said "wow". My daughter even loved it, and when she came back from another recent trip she told me that the Dore was still a gorgeous painting. It's a sad story in the work, about losing a child, but it's painted beautifully.

Eugene Arenhaus said...

I had seen at least one large oil painting by Dore which was entirely in black and white. I believe it's been the "Black Prussian Eagle". A rare thing, to do that in oils.

Bryan Coombes said...

What wonderful work, illustrative and painterly. I aspire to this style.