Saturday, November 18, 2017

Doré's Caricatures of Communards

Gustave Doré (1831-1883) is best known for his illustrations of the Bible and Dante's Inferno, but he was also a caricaturist. 

In this 1871 sketch of a Communard prisoner, He emphasizes the wild hair and beard by downplaying the eyes and making them mere smudges.

He pushes the sweeping curve under the chin and the aquiline nose. 

This guy has dots for pupils and a triangular face.

After their failed uprising, many of the Communards were executed or exiled. Doré portrayed them as the pitiful souls that they must have been. The sketches were done under intense conditions: "In the evening, among his friends, to the repeated sound of the cannon at Mont-Valérian and the heights of Montretout, thundering incessantly against Paris; at the striking memory of those long processions of Communard prisoners brought back from Paris to the avenues of Versailles, at the sight of those wretches, their brutish faces contracted with hatred, rage and the suffering of a long march, under a burning sun he took pleasure … in making these sketches.

Dig Deeper
Book: The Dore Illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy
Flickr set with more of these Gustave Doré caricatures
Images: from Versailles et Paris en 1871, which also includes magistrates and members of the National Assembly
Previously on GurneyJourney: The other side of Gustave Doré
Wikipedia on Communards and Doré
Thanks, John Holbo and Mme. Bruyére


Lucille said...

Almost Van Gogh... but, different. imho.

Unknown said...

Van Gogh loved Dore's work and even painted a homage to one of his engravings (

Dore is as good (and sometimes better) as Corot, Courbet, Delacroix and other such canonically recognized great painters of the period. But because he did mostly illustration work, didn't fit into the tastes of the time as a painter but wrote no artistic manifestos or founded separate schools he's unfairly marginalized by art history.

Rich said...

There's quite an equanimity here.

The way Doré portraied these death-bound communards made me remember Hodler sketching his death-bound wife during her last fatal moments and thereafter.