Dore, Gustave

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

The French artist Gustave Doré was one of the most imaginative and popular book illustrators of the 1800's. Doré was born in Strasbourg on January 6, 1832. From the time he was a small boy, Doré loved to draw, and his exceptional talent quickly became apparent. At age 15 Doré moved to Paris, where he lived for the rest of his life. The lively sense of humor in his sketches attracted the attention of a Parisian publisher, who offered him a job drawing caricatures (comically exaggerated pictures) for a magazine.

Doré is best known for his illustrations of literary classics. His first effort, for an 1854 edition of Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel, was an immediate success. In all, he illustrated nearly one hundred books, including Dante's Inferno (1861), Cervantes' Don Quixote (1863), Perrault's Fairy Tales (1862), and the Bible (1866).

Doré's favorite medium was wood engraving, although he also made many lithographs. He usually drew directly on the woodblock, and an engraver cut the block for printing.

Doré wanted above all to be appreciated as a painter. He exhibited his paintings in Paris with little success. In London, however, he had a greater following, and he opened his Doré Gallery there in 1869.

Doré's visits to London led to the publication of one of his most fascinating books, London. A Pilgrimage (1872), which records life in England's capital, from the poor people living in the slums to the upper classes living in their elegant homes. Doré died in Paris on January 23, 1883.

Helen Mules
Metropolitan Museum of Art

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