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Gustave Doré

By Morgan Tennant

Gustave Doré was a French illustrator from Strasbourg, France. He started his illustration career at the young age of 15, when his first illustrated story was published. Doré began working in Paris, but over the years he became very popular with British publishers.

One of Dore’s fist well known publications of his illustrations was for a French edition of Cervante’s Don Quixote in 1863. Doré worked primarily with wood and steel engravings. His illustrations of the knight and squire from Don Quixote were very influential to future readers, and directors. It gave them an idea of the physical look of the characters. Another great success for Doré was illustrating the English Bible in 1866. The illustrations from the Bible are some of Doré’s most popular pieces. This collection consists of 238 engravings. His Biblical illustrations were first published in France and then reprinted in various editions including German and English. In the Bible illustrations, he makes use of contrast and chiaroscuro for a dramatic effect, as well as creating a sense of depth and mystical effects.

After his great success illustrating the Bible, Doré has a major exhibit of his work in the Doré Gallery in London. In 1869, he began work with the publishers Grant & Co. to illustrate a portrait of London. The book, London: A Pilgrimage, has 180 of Doré’s engravings and was published in 1872. The book did well, but Doré’s work was criticized by some contemporary critics, saying that Doré focused too much on the poverty in London. However, the book was a financial success for Doré. The book also allowed Doré’s name to be heard and allowed more commissions from other British publishers including Paradise Lost, and Divine Comedy by Dante. In the later part of his career, and right before his death, Doré illlustrated Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.

Doré died in 1883 at the young age of 51, and is buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetary in Paris. Over his lifetime Gustave Doré illustrated over 200 books and made over 400 engravings.


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