If you call yourself a true lover of the fine arts, you are no doubt familiar with one of the greatest illustrators of all time–Gustave Doré, a name that deserves all the deference in the world. But a century ago, Doré received lashes of unscrupulous criticism because his depictions of the low socio-economic estates, and those afflicted by poverty were not gracious, nor were they in any shape a collection of masterpieces influenced by the deliverance of monetary recompense, as never was the case with Doré’s inspiration to draw, paint, or sculpt. We shall examine closely, in awe of course, the epitome of Doré’s artistic finish line, both in execution and imagination, and explore one of the best artists to have graced humankind!

Doré has crowned us with twelve years of plentiful devotion to his art, all the while asking nothing in return but sovereign appreciation to his credit. Doré is considered one of the most celebrated and prolific illustrators of the 19th century and especially of the Romantic Period, one of the best of the many ensuing literary movements, which breathed the candid spirit of ingenuity’s pursuit, emulating what is so dear to all of us.

Of all the biographical texts on Doré, Blanche Roosevelt’s The Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré offers the best account of his life. Mrs. Roosevelt shook Mr. Doré’s hand.  Additionally, Mrs. Roosevelt interviewed Doré’s friends, acquaintances, family, business partners (engravers), classmates, amongst a more extensive list of others, who also managed to get a hold of letters written to and by Doré throughout the course of his life. It is mainly from that eulogizing tribute to his genius, incessant, and indefatigable production, and likewise admirable qualities–firstly humane, secondly artistic, and thirdly implorable to his homeland France–that I present the information on these pages.

Gustave Doré was born on January 6, 1832, in Strasbourg, France. His mother, Madame Doré, was always supportive and urged him to become a pupil of the fine arts. His father; however, was not well acquainted with the mere idea of his son making a professional career of drawing, given that artists in general, even nowadays, greet poverty in the face rather than financial success.

Since early life, Doré was a renowned genius, the head of his class, the sought-out illustrator by well-known presses, litterateurs, the famous, and lastly, the elect from abroad, with whom he was deliberately associated with after having checked them out for prestige, interest, and overall compatibility. He was a man stern in his beliefs.

Doré was an illustrator, a painter, an aquarellist, a sculptor, a violinist, a singer, a trained acrobat, an engraver, and a prodigy who prevailed the arduous goings of daily life more upon his scaffolding than on the ground among us, harvesting civilians and pioneers. Had he known then how swiftly our pumping hearts pause at the sight of one of his wonders today, over ten decades after their conception, he would have settled down upon the scaffolding, drawn tent flaps over the rigid lustrous structure of metal, and never once more set foot outside.

Doré’s primary technique for invention and composition are inequivalent, solely and with pride, exclusively from his photographic memory. He never studied from models, as often is common practice with painters of his level of talent, which shows how unique his perpetual ken was embedded in us through what he left behind, a pilgrimage.

Doré painted the “Bible,” the “Inferno,” and the “Don Quixote” series collections published by Messrs. Cassell and Co. in the 1860s; the “London,” “L’Espagne,” and “Orlando Furioso” drawings collection were subsequently published by Hachette and Co. in the 1870s. Doré was largely praised abroad against his homely thirst of making fame primarily out of France. Ultimately though, neither for the celebrities of the time who came to him with offers of work, nor for foreign press houses that wished to put him to the test was he prompted to take anyone into contract unless; however, they had found merit in his eyes with his careful observation of likes and resemblance studies. Only those Doré found nobility did he accept to be associated to such personnel.

To dig into his religious devotion, it suffices to say that he was a Christian who allegedly prayed at the very least once a day, and who thanked God every single time he found himself in closed-off communication with his deity inside or outside his studio. But no man will ever be born just like Doré, and to this date one may say that the pain of his self-slavery in freedom was what gave freedom to the slavery of our lives. The amount of work that he undertook on a daily basis was greatly attributed to his desire not only to create but to improve as an artist. He always said that the painting or drawing he liked best was the one he hadn’t yet painted.

Not only did Doré empty his pockets for the less fortunate, he also visited children at hospitals no matter how much work he had piled up upon his burdened back. He was well aware that he was very fortunate to have been born into a family that was financially stable; and so, he was always willing to give to the poor as a sample of his kindheartedness and nobility. Examples of his selflessness go back as far as his boyhood when he was constantly attracted to all the poverty around him; proof of this is well archived in his early drawings. On any given day, he stopped working on a canvas to be beside a friend in sickness and turmoil.

Doré died on January 23, 1883, at the age of fifty-one. Yet, one may say he well lives today among Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. And so we are accorded his faithful cheerers on the shady bleachers at his sideline’s museum of dreams, wherein we sniff the balmy laurels off the shrubs with which we are delighted, in this precious garden of ever-green; in my last words, humility’s content.




10 responses »

  1. shira says:

    Great! I’m happy to find another Dore lover :]
    Do you know about books that descibed dore technique?

    Thank you for the article and help,

    • shira says:

      And another question, where can I find Blanche Roosevelt’s book?

    • Leandro says:

      Hi Shira,

      I’m happy that you love Dore’s artworks as much as I do. Well, his technique has a lot to do with engravings. Unfortunately, I do not know of any books on Dore that emphasize on his technique, most of what you see in his illustrations has to do with talent, size, and work time. Only one of his illustrations could be gigantic like a wall mural, and Dore needed to get on scaffoldings to draw. On the positive side, Blanche Roosevelt’s book does describe some of the techniques that Dore used in Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré. Before you buy this book, I do need you to know that it was first published in 1885, so the jargon will be very strong. You can buy the book on Amazon.com, or go into your favorite bookstore and order a copy. Hope this is of some help to you!

  2. BRIAN GUERTIN says:

    Great piece on Dore. I found this site because I went to the goodwill store and just bought an 1887 ARTIST PROOF SIGNED BY DORY AND LOUIS GODFREY,THE ENGRAVER.IT HAS THE ORIGINAL OAK FRAME AND OLD WAVEY GLASS! I’m trying to find out the value. If anyone can help me please email me at briguert57@comcast.net The word Artist proof is impressed in the border. It measures about 28 x 23″ not counting the border

    • BRIAN GUERTIN says:


    • Leandro says:

      Hi Brian Guertin,

      Sorry about the wait! I’ve been working on yet another article on top of my day job. Oh, and did I mention that I’m writing a novel? Yes, I’ve been busy, but I’m gladly getting back to you now! Hopefully, you understand that I appreciate your patience.

      A note on your engraving: I am not sure about this piece, Brian. For instance, “Louis,” I immediately recognize since I studied Mr. Doré’s birth certificate very closely; it may come from his name: Louis-Auguste Gustave Doré. On the other hand, “Godfrey” is not a name I’m personally familiar with. I have read so many books on Gustave Doré that I can confidently tell you that there is a possibility that there is no information on this “Godfrey” when it comes to any sort of affiliation with Mr. Doré. I will say, however, that there is another French artist by a similar name: Louis Godefroy Jadin. Now, Louis Godefroy, and not “Godfrey,” was a painter whose specialty focused on the animal kingdom. Perhaps, knowing this could be of some help to you.

      Although there is a chance that there is no record of Mr. Godefroy teaming up with Mr. Doré, the possibility of them getting together is not far-fetched at all. In fact, I see no reason why they wouldn’t have met since Mr. Dore was mostly interested in paintings, and in learning from the best. It is possible that what you have in your hands is authentic. To tell you the truth, though, “Dory” is not a name that strikes any strings with me. I have never encountered anyone in any of his books calling him, or referring to him, by such a name. Dory; therefore, sounds like the engraving may be a hoax and valueless. It seems to me that you think only one artist made this when in fact it is probable that two did it; and yet, you only got one signature. Something doesn’t seem right… But once again, you need to hand this matter over to a professional who can investigate the piece itself.

      What you need to know:

      1. “Dory” is not right, but bear in mind that when Gustave Doré signed his work, his signature tends to have the “e” look like “y.” This could be him. Check out this website and compare signatures. If this is not the signature you see on your painting, then this is definitely not him. Follow this link (or copy and paste into your browser tab): http://www.authenticite.fr/authenticite_fr_actu_view-decouvrir_les_saltimbanques_de_gustave_dore_strasbourg__1832___paris__1883__-281-1.html

      2. Louis Godefroy could be your man, too. Maybe, this is the artist you are looking for. If you believe so, research his signature and make comparisons.

      3. You could have something that is extremely valuable or something that’s worthless. That said, know that most of Doré’s works are so big that you could never hang them on the wall, not unless we are talking about a warehouse or spacious museum wall. Generally speaking, his works are nothing like the size of a window sash.

      4. I know of no records on “A Daydream.” If Gustave Dore, indeed, did this, there is potentially no files on it, like it passed down the radar.

      5. The frame and the glass may be very valuable.

      Now, questions I need to ask you:

      1. What is this engraving about? What does it depict?

      2. How much did you pay for it?

      Also, for a professional appraisal, you can go to: http://www.findartinfo.com

  3. Hi Leandro,

    That was a lovely piece on Gustave Dore. Artists may pass away but their work stays on forever like you have done in this well researched post. Keep writing.

  4. Nuggehalli Pankaja says:

    Very informative! Nicely written

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s