This Page is written by Mr Dan Malan, author of: 'Gustave Doré - Adrift on Dreams of Splendor'


HOSTED BY

ANTIQUE MAPS & PRINTS BY MAIL ORDER

GUSTAVE DORÉ

His Life and Work

Click here to view larger version


To order this Book direct from the Author, at $ 39.95 *INCLUDES SURFACE SHIPPING*

email Dan Malan directly

Click here to view larger version


A Biography of Gustave Doré written by Dan Malan, author of:

"Gustave Doré-Adrift on Dreams of Splendor"

Gustave Doré (1832-83) was the most popular illustrator of all time, both in terms of number of engravings (10,000+) and number of editions (4,000+). In the forty year period from 1860-1900 a new Doré illustrated edition was published every eight days! His 238 Bible engravings were by far the most popular set of illustrations ever done, with nearly 1,000 editions. Yet Doré was much more than just an illustrator. He did over 400 oil paintings. Millions of people came to see a gallery of his paintings. He also did several hundred watercolor landscapes and dozens of works of sculpture. He did the monument to Alexandre Dumas that sits in Paris today.

Why then have so many people never heard of Gustave Doré? They may not be familiar with his name, but his engravings are everywhere, like on the cover of Time Magazine. Doré is also one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood. His engravings were used in many classic films like King Kong, Great Expectations, and The Ten Commandments, as well as many recent films like Amistat, Seven & What Dreams may Come. Doré's name may fade in and out of pop culture usage, but his art has had an enduring influence to generations of romantics and realists alike.

Gustave Doré was born in Strasbourg in January 1832. He was the ultimate child prodigy. His earliest dated drawings were from the age of five. The stories of his early artistic prowess are legendary. By the age of 12 he was carving his own lithographic stones, making sets of engravings with stories to go with them. The great French illustrator J. J.Grandville met Gustave and predicted great artistic success. But no one could have dreamed just how quickly that success would come.

Doré exploded onto the Parisian art scene at the age of 15, even though he was short and looked about ten years old. The Doré family visited Paris for the first time when Gustave was 15 and he fell in love with that capital of artistic sophistication. One day they went by a publishing company, with a set of engravings displayed in the window. Gustave immediately hatched a plan. The next morning he feigned illness and told the family to go on without him. He quickly made several sketches and headed for that publishing company. He walked in the front door, found the office of the publisher Charles Philipon, and barged right in. He plopped his drawings down on Philipon's desk and exclaimed, "This is how that set of illustrations should be done." Philipon was amused at Gustave's antics, but when he looked down at the drawings he almost cried. He called several other people into his office. No one could believe that little boy had actually done the drawings. So they asked him to do some more drawings right there. He did additional drawings in literally seconds. A collective gasp went up from the group. At this point Philipon refused to let Gustave leave his office. They tracked down Gustave's father and brought him to Philipon. They talked him into signing a lucrative contract for Gustave on the spot. Since the Dorés were headed back home, little Gustave moved in with Monsieur Philipon.

By the age of 16, Gustave Doré was the highest paid illustrator in France, making more per page than Honore Daumier made at the height of his career. The timing of it all was almost supernatural. Philipon was just launching a new humor weekly, Journal pour Rire. Doré, the "Boy Genius" (as Theophile Gautier dubbed him) was the featured artist. But even prior to that, Philipon published Doré's first book when he was just 15. It was a satire entitled The Labours of Hercules. The 1847 book is now extremely rare. The book was entirely by Gustave, who wrote the text, did the drawings & engraved them all on stone. Little Gustave became the toast of Paris.

By the way, did I mention that he never had an art lesson in his entire life?

As a teenager, Doré did over 2,000 satirical caricature engravings. But he longed for more. In 1854, he launched out into the field of literary engravings, with sets for Rabelais and Balzac. During the 1850s he did dozens of literary works, but once again he longed for more. Then he took a step almost as bold as the steps he took in 1847 into Philipon's office. By this time Doré was with the leading French publisher Hachette. Doré told Louis Hachette he wanted to do the ultimate art book, a giant literary folio of Dante's Inferno. Up to this time no Doré book had retailed for more than 15 French Francs. The proposed Inferno volume would sell for 100 Francs. Hachette turned him down, saying no one would pay that much. Doré said he would pay for the entire edition. Hachette was listed as the publisher but was actually just the printer. But again Hachette cautioned Doré to only have a hundred copies bound, so as not to waste all that money on binding. Doré did 76 full-page folio engravngs for the elephant folio edition. It came out in early 1861. A couple weeks later, Doré received a famous telegram from Hachette. "Success! Come quickly! I am an ass!" Far from selling 100 copies, there have now been over 200 editions of that set of engravings. The horror genre as we know it today has two major sources - the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and the engravings of Doré for Dante's Inferno. The early 1860s solidified Doré's position as France's foremost illustrator.

A series of childrens' classics folios followed, from Don Quixote to Baron Munchausen to Fairy Tales. But Doré was still relatively unknown outside of France. All that would change in December of 1865. In a three year period, the English-speaking world saw twenty Doré folios containing over 2000 engravings. There were fears he would kill himself from overwork. For nearly twenty years Doré would be literally the most famous artist in the world. It was often said that you c ould find Doré folios in every English-speaking home where they could spell the word "art."

But we are getting ahead of our story. In December of 1865, four Doré folios were published in England. Shortly thereafter they began a serial of the Doré Bible, so famous it's mentioned on page 46 of Tom Sawyer. British commissions soon followed of Milton and Tennyson. The main British publisher was Cassell, but by the late 1860s Doré folios were published in dozens of languages.

Doré greatly benefitted from another coincidence. It was at this time that electrotypes came into widespread use, allowing unlimited reproduction of engravings thru the use of molds. Foreign publishers only needed electrotypes of Doré's engravings from his original French publishers.

Doré moved into the field of Fine Arts in the late 1860s, but first let us finish up with his folios. After the Franco-Prussian War, Doré became a much more serious artist. The year 1872 saw his great social commentary folio masterpiece, London, a Pilgrimage, hailed by everyone from Vincent van Gogh to Lord Kenneth Clark.

Doré continued to produce a steady flow of folios in the 1870s, but they became more diverse, from a travel folio of Spain to a historical folio of The Crusades to literary classics of Rabelais, Ariosto, and The Ancient Mariner.

In 1882, Doré took on his only U.S. commission ever for Poe's The Raven. Doré died in early 1883, just as he was finishing the Raven engravings. He had just turned 51.

In the late 1860s, Doré was restless again. During the course of his entire artistic life, he moved into a new field about every five years. Doré's greatest disappointment in France was the fine art establishment's refusal to accept him as a painter. Doré admittedly had difficulties with color shading. Some have conjectured that he was actually color-blind. French artists were afraid he would come to dominate their field as he had illustration. But Doré found in England the full artistic respect he so sought. For the last 15 years of his life, Doré was almost more British than French.

In 1867 a gallery was opened in London to display Doré's paintings. The Doré Gallery (New Bond Street) was open continuously in London for 25 years and then it toured the U.S. The British proprietors of the The Doré Gallery commissioned him to do a large religious painting, similar to one of his Bible engravings. That began a series of enormous religious canvasses for which he became world-famous. They became known as the greatest collection of religious paintings in the world. The French would say, "But his paintings are really just enormous illustrations," and the British would reply, "So what?"

Doré's final vindication as a painter came in 1896 in Chicago, long after his death. That was the westernmost stop of the Doré Gallery. The common folks in the midwest of the U.S. dearly loved Doré and proceeded to break every attendance record at the Art Institute of Chicago. Daily attendance exceeded 16,000 and on the final day, over 4,000 people came thru the turnstyles in the final HOUR !!! In eight months 1.5 million people came to see the Doré exhibition. To put that in perspective, the previous record for attendance at any U.S. art museum for an entire year had been 600,000.

Doré has often been called the last of the Romantics. In the 1870s, Doré took up watercolor landscapes, particularly in the Alps and in Scotland.

Then in the late 1870s, he turned to sculpture. He found the French more receptive to his sculpture (no problems with coloring). But it was again after his death that he was really accepted. Doré died just as he was finishing his monument to his good friend Alexandre Dumas. No record can be found of a single negative comment by any French art critic concerning the Dumas monument. Many of them had felt that success came too easily to Doré, that he had not paid his dues. Instead Doré paid his dues after he was successful and he died a broken man, even though millions of fan around the world adored his art.

Vincent van Gogh referred to Doré as an "Artist of the People" because Doré took his art directed to the masses thru his literary folios. Now all of Doré's art is in the public domain and it is reprinted through commercial printing all over the world. Doré's sets of engravings are etched into the memory of society's collective subconscious. That is his true legacy.


Some Examples of Doré's Illustrations

Click on the image to view a larger version

Quixicote in his study - 1863...From Milton's 'Paradise Lost' - 1866...Photograuve from original Dore Work from Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King' - 1868...From Jerrold's 'London, a Pilgrimage' - 1872

From Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' - 1876...From 'Hood's Poems' - 1870...From Poe's 'The Raven' - 1883...From 'Atala' by Chateaubriand - 1863


List of Major Doré Works

Magazines

Date.... # Engravings..Title...................................Details

1847-58 1418............. Journal pour Rire ............Early caricature satire
1855-60 0171............. Musee Francais-Anglais...Large folio artistic lithographs
1855-62 0362............. Journal pour Tous ...........Literary vignettes
1857-76 0082............. Semaine des Enfants .......(+ many JpT repros)
1860-73 0368............. Tour du Monde ................Later used in Spain folio

BOOKS

Date... # Engravings... Title.............................................Details

French Origin

1847 ...0105.............. Dore: Labours of Hercules ............Litho satire, by Dore at age 15
1851 ...0155.............. Dore: 3 Misunderstood Artists ...... Litho satire, comic-book style
1851 ...0175.............. Dore: Unhappy Pleasure Trip ...... Litho satire, comic-book style
1854 ...0500 ..............Dore: History of Holy Russia .........Satire from Crimean War
1854 ...0105.............. Rabelais: Complete Works .......... See 1873 for folio edition
1854 ...0020.............. Dore: Parisian Public .................. Large humorous lithographs
1854 ...0024.............. Dore: Parisian Menagerie ........... Large humorous lithographs
1855 ...0425.............. Balzac: Droll Stories ....................Small 8vo, smallest major work
1856 ...0013.............. Dore: Legend-Wandering Jew .... Largest book, elephant folio
1856 ...0020.............. Lafon: Jaufry the Knight .............. Earliest knighthood illos
1857 ...0012.............. Lafon: Fierabras-Legends ............ Similar to Jaufry
1857 ..20+9.............. Segur: New Fairy Tales .................9 more illos added in 1863
1859 ...0324..............Malte-Brun: Univ. Geography .......Can be found in partial volumes
1859 ...0020.............. Dore: Gallic Follies ...................... Final humorous litho album
1860 ...0067.............. LaBedolliere: Modern Paris .........Humorous social satire
1860 ...0070.............. LaBedolliere: Paris Suburbs ........Same as above
1860 ...0335.............. Taine: Tour thru the Pyrenees ......First Dore travel book - vignettes
1861 ...0158.............. About: King of the Mountains .......Satire on Greek bandits
1861 ...0076.............. Dante's Inferno ............................ Most influential horror engs. ever
1861
...0293.............. Saintine: Chemin des Ecoliers .... Mainly smaller vignettes
1862 ...0165.............. Saintine: Mythology of Rhine .......Similar to above
1862 ...0012.............. Dore: Gustave Dore Album .......... Large serious art lithographs
1862 ...0042.............. Perrault: Fairy Tales .................... First major childrens' classic
1862 ...0158.............. (Raspe): Baron Munchausen ........ Another childrens' classic
1862 ...0042.............. L'Epine: Captain Castagnette ....... Satire on Napoleonic Wars
1863 ...0177.............. L'Epine: Legend-Croquemitaine .. Knighthood satire
1863 ...0044.............. Chateaubriand:
Atala .................. Fabulous Indian & scenic engs.
1863 ...0377.............. Cervantes:
Don Quixote .............. Over 300 repro editions
1865 ...0020.............. Arabian Nights (Sinbad) .............. Total of 300 engravings
1866 ...0060.............. Gautier: Captain Fracasse ........... Swashbuckling saga
1866 ...0228.............. (Dore): The Dore Bible ................. Most popular engs. of all time
1867 ...0334.............. LaFontaine: Fables ...................... French version of Aesop
1868 ...0060.............. Dante: Purgatory & Paradise ....... Best angel engravings
1873 ...0719.............. Rabelais: Complete Works .......... 600+ additional engravings
1874 ...0306.............. Davillier: Spain ........................... Tour du Monde repros
1877 ...0100.............. Michaud: History of Crusades ...... Only historical folio
1879 ...0618.............. Ariosto: Orlando Furioso ............. Italian Renaissance classic
1907 ...0095.............. Dore: Versailles & Paris in 1871.... Franco-Prussian War sketches

English Origin

Date... # Engravings... Title............................................. Details

1860 ...0005.............. Shakespeare: The Tempest ..........First British commission
1862 ...0036.............. Ainsworth: All Round the World... Tour du Monde repros
1866 ...0050.............. Milton:
Paradise Lost ................... First English folio commission
1867 ...0303.............. Dore: 200 Sketches ...................... Repros from JpR
1867 ...0002.............. Hugo: Toilers of the Sea .............. Amazingly no French editions
1868 ...0037..............
Tennyson: Idylls of the King ........ Steel engravings = 4 titles
1870 ...0009.............. Hood:
Poems ............................... Only other steel engravings
1870 ...0250.............. Dore: The Dore Gallery ............... All repros from other folios
1872 ...0180.............. Jerrold:
London, a Pilgrimage .... Social commentary masterpiece
1876 ...0042.............. Coleridge:
Rime-Ancient Mariner. Elephant folio
1883 ...0026.............. Poe:
The Raven ........................... Only U.S. commission
1893 ...0025.............. Catalogue - Dore Gallery ............. Photos of Dore paintings
1996 ...0045.............. Dickens: A Christmas Carol .......... JpT repros - 1st book edition


Do visit JULIE'S ANTIQUE PRINTS.
You will find a nice range of antique prints, engravings, maps and books.

EMAIL ENQUIRIES

We are now retired and the Postaprint Website is no longer available. However this series of Reference Pages are being left on line. We do hope you will find them to informative and helpful. They provide details of many of the maps, books and engravings we had the pleasure of dealing in over so many years. A full index of all the Reference Pages will be found HERE.
However, my wife does have an eBay store with many attractive old maps & prints on offer.

This Page is provided as a REFERENCE RESOURCE - it is NOT an Inventory.


Specialist mail order suppliers of collectible historical antique maps and engravings.