Paul Gustave

France • 1832−1883

Biography and information

french graphic artist and painter. Already at the age of four he showed remarkable artistic talent, and when he was 11 he tried his hand at lithography. In 1847, Dore came to study in Paris, and in 1848 signed a contract with the Journal pour rire. According to this contract, the artist was to provide one lithograph each week. Woodcuts to Gargantua and Pantagruel Rabelais (1854) and Naughty Stories (1855) Balzac brought him fame. Dore also illustrated many other works, such as Eternal Gide (1856) by Eugene Sue, Hell (1861) Dante, Don Quixote of Cervantes, Lost Paradise (1866) of Milton. His illustrations to the Bible (1856) are widely known. Dore died on January 23, 1883.

“The Great Dora,” “the greatest illustrator of the 19th century,” as the artist is called by the researchers of his work. L.R. Warsaw writes: “In the history of illustration, Gustave Dore has an exceptional place. An outstanding representative of not only French, but also the entire European art of the second half of the XIX century, he introduced drawings, unsurpassed in artistic merit, into the treasury of world graphics, revealing a deep insight into the essence of phenomena, reflecting in them various aspects of modern society, all its classes and social groups. "


Paul Gustave Dore was born on January 6, 1832 in Strasbourg. The city hall’s declaration of January 9, 1832 indicated that Pierre Louis Christopher Dore had a son, named Louis Augustus Gustave. Father Dore was an engineer, builder of bridges. He loved to read, and the boy was able to view the illustrations. This greatly aroused his desire for drawing.


Very early, Gustave began to amaze everyone with his childish, almost professional drawings. He began drawing at the age of four, and at the age of ten he performed illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy.


In 1841, the family moved to Boer, a town surrounded by rich nature. Later, the artist writes: “These spectacles were one of my first living impressions. They were the strongest impulses that formed my taste. ”


In 1847, Doret moved with her mother again, this time to Paris, where Gustave is assigned to the Lyceum of Charlemagne. Here he gets a good education. Here he finds friends who later became famous people - Edmond Abu (writer), Hippolyt Ten (historian and art theorist).


As soon as he settled in the capital, Gustave went to the editor-in-chief of Magazine Pur Reere Sh. Filipona with a series of drawings The Feats of Hercules. Filipon takes him to the number of employees with a salary of 5,000 francs per year.


Without receiving a special art education, Gustav spent much time in the halls of the Louvre, studying the paintings of old masters, and also often worked in the National Library, where he studied old engravings for a long time.


A great event in the life of a young artist occurred at the end of 1847, when Aubert published an album of his lithographs, The Feats of Hercules. In the preface he wrote: “The exploits of Hercules” were conceived, executed and lithographed by a fifteen-year-old artist who learned to draw without a teacher and classical studies. We decided to report this not only in order to arouse a particular interest of the public in the works of the young master, but also to mark the beginning of the path of Mr. Dore, who, we believe in it, will reach amazing heights in art. ”


At sixteen, Gustave was in the midst of turbulent events - the February 1848 revolution. “Dore was at that age when such grandiose events have a profound impact on the impressionable nature,” writes the artist biographer B. Roosevelt. - He studied these pulsating masses of the people and in his imagination turned them into grand pictures. Day and night he was on the streets of Paris, silently watching every episode of the struggle. ”


Dore draws lists: “Louis-Philippe is the ex-king of the puppet” and the “Organizational Council of the National Guard”, which quickly became popular.


Gustave becomes the youngest participant in the Salon of 1848 with a series of drawings "New Belisarius", "Union - power" and "Scenes from the life of drunkards." Since then, Dore almost annually participates in Salon exhibitions, exhibiting both pictorial, sculptural and graphic works.


In 1852, Dore unexpectedly broke up with a magazine to dedicate himself to illustration. He begins with modest work on the design of small and cheap popular publications. The artist is searching for his way. Already in the illustrations to “Gargantua and Pantagruel” (1854) Dore shows himself to be an artist of mighty imagination, who skillfully clothed the thought that had generated him in the form of a concrete image.


According to LA Diacov: “The images created by Dora are folk in their essence. Gargantua and Pantagruel in the illustrations of Dora are perceived as full participants in the life of the people, they naturally "fit" into crowds of people, interiors, nature. And all this in accordance with the popular understanding of the characters as real people ...


Dore's ingenious illustrations of “Gargantua and Pantagruel” were the beginning of a new type of illustrated book, where drawings are inextricably merged with text and large and small images alternate freely. There was found a happy harmony between the literary and illustrative part. At the same time, the artist, not denying himself the right to creative fiction, seeks to convey the unique features of the figurative structure of the work. ”


1854 for Dora was not only fruitful, but also decisive. This year appears the album of Dore's lithographs "Parisian Menagerie". G. Gartlaub notes. “The magnificent sheets with their free self-processing of the received impressions from Daumier reveal the only inherent ability of pathetic distortion of gesture, costume and landscape that already in those days of Dore, which, in fact, not so much gives these sheets a funny character, as they bring in a hue of shadow. The young man is already ripe for the perception of the decisive phenomenon, prepared for him by modernity, the Daomier phenomenon. ”


In 1855, the artist finishes drawings for Balzac's “Naughty Stories”. “The images created by Dora convincingly reveal the characters, temperaments and customs of the heroes: love, cunning, suspicion, hypocrisy, good nature, gluttony, fanatical frenzy, gaiety of character, notes L.А. Dyakov. “Contemporaries did not believe that the drawings for“ Naughty Tales ”were performed by a young man living in Paris and spending time among the bohemians on Martyrs Street.”


From the autumn of that year, Dore began to study Dante to create illustrations for the Divine Comedy. The grand engravings of the artist to "Hell" appeared in 1861, "Purgatory" and "Paradise" were performed in 1869.


Theophile Gautier wrote in the Monitor newspaper in 1861: “There is no other artist who can better illustrate Dante than Gustave Dore. In addition to his talent in composition and drawing, he possesses that visionary look that is inherent in poets who know the secrets of Nature. His amazing pencil makes the clouds take on obscure shapes, the waters sparkle with a grim steel glitter, and the mountains take on various faces. The artist creates the atmosphere of hell: underground mountains and landscapes, gloomy sky, where there is never a sun. He conveys this unearthly climate with amazing conviction ... "


But the opinion of G. Gartlaub about the engravings of “Hell”: “There is undoubtedly a significant step forward in the development of the heroic-pathetic side of the artist’s talent and, at the same time, the ability to adapt to a large format that often amazes us. A spectacular composition and, at the same time, a genuine ability for the inner vision of space and landscape sometimes merge here together, producing an unusually strong impression. ”


“In the 1860s, wooden engraving began to gain popularity among the public, which soon turned into a mania. Every author who wrote the book wanted Dore to illustrate it; every publisher who published the book sought to publish with Dore’s illustrations.” According to a friend and biographer of the artist B. Gerrold, the number of Dore’s drawings reached forty-four thousand by May 1862 ”(P. Lacroix).


Dore usually divided her working day into three parts: the morning was devoted to the schedule, the midday hours - painting, the evening - again the schedule. The artist’s friend, the painter Burdelen, describes his method of work in this way: “I saw how Gustave earned 10,000 francs in one morning. There were about twenty boards in front of him, he passed from one to the other, sketched a drawing with speed and confidence that were amazing. In one morning he made twenty magnificent drawings. Then, laughingly, he threw the pencils aside, threw up his head in a special way and said to me cheerfully: “Good morning exercises, my friend. That's enough to feed my family for a year. Don't you think I deserved a good breakfast? I swear I am hungry just for that amount. Let's go. "


In 1862, Dore creates illustrations for the "Fairy Tales" by Charles Perrault. Sainte-Beuve, having received this edition of Dore, called it "a gift for the king." The brilliant critic Paul de Saint-Victor, saw in Perro's “Fairy Tales” a “naive and tempting masquerade. It seems that you see Oberon in the costume of the Marquis, walking with Titania in an airtower, accompanied by Ariel and Pack, dressed as pages. ”


The masterpieces of improvisation, fiction, wit - drawings for "The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen" R.-E. Raspé (1863). In 1863, the same year, a large cycle of Dore to Don Quixote by Cervantes appeared. We can safely say that these illustrations still remain unsurpassed.


“What a gift! - exclaimed T. Gauthier, seeing "Don Quixote" Dore. - What is the richness of thought, power, intuitive depth, what kind of penetration into the heart of various things! What a feeling of real and at the same time chimerical! "


The sixties are the most fruitful period in the work of Dore the illustrator. In 1864, he created illustrations for the Legend of Crokemiten, Captain Castañetu, and in 1865 he illustrated a two-volume Bible with two hundred thirty drawings.


L.A. Dyakov writes:


“Turning to the Old Testament, he will give it in terms of ancient cosmism, trying to convey the immense processes experienced by humanity at the dawn of civilization. Everything in these sheets is extremely grand and cosmic: rearing rocks, endless valleys, bottomless gorges, monstrous trees, countless human streams, bright flashes of light cutting through the night mist, overwhelming in its scale architecture of ancient temples and palaces.


That is why the "background", "atmosphere" is the main, defining moment here.


Illustrating the New Testament, Dora is more academic and dry, somewhat constrained and holding back her imagination, although in some sheets, for example in the Apocalypse, she gives full rein to her imagination.


Arriving in London in the mid-sixties Dore was waiting for an enthusiastic welcome. The Prince and Princess of Wales invited him to dinner, where he was introduced to the Queen of England. The life of the artist develops quite well. Celebrities such as Gounod, Meyerbeer, Offenbach, Eugene Syu, Alexander Dumas, Hugo, Polina Viardot, Adeline Patti, Franz Liszt come to visit the artist. The artist’s large woodcut workshop in the capital of England was inundated with work.


The artist’s biographers note that from 1860 to 1870 Dore spent a lot of time painting and that during this period he easily overcame all the “technical” difficulties of oil painting. In the sixties - early seventies, huge canvases appear - “The Titans” (1866), “The Death of Orpheus” (1869), allegories on military themes of 1871, “The Brazen Serpent”, “The Expulsion of Traders from the Temple”, “The Dream of Pilate's Wife”, “ Beating up babies ”,“ Descent from the Cross ”and other works on biblical and gospel subjects. But there were other works: "Gypsies", "Street musicians", "Monks during the service", exhibited at the 1869 exhibition in Munich.


In 1871, the artist creates a brilliant cycle of caricatures "Versailles and Paris", where in sharp and wonderfully properly seized types he very succinctly gave a description to the deputies of the 1871 National Assembly, a collection of political vampires, national shame and disaster.


Further, Dore creates numerous drawings for two folios telling about the life of London (1872) and Spain (1874). L.R. Warsaw notes: “In these drawings he achieves great expressiveness, integrity, reflecting the socio-political life, and reaches unprecedented heights. “To look at the world as Balzac” was the favorite phrase and motto of Dore. In the illustrations that depict the life of the capital of old England and the peculiar way of life in Spain, the artist depicted absolutely everything, right down to the most hidden corners of cities and distant villages. Life is shown in its entirety. Significantly revealed and the nature of the people. "


In this regard, the story of Jerrold can be cited: “When we visited Newgate, he asked the jailer, who accompanied us, to leave him for a few minutes by the window, through which the courtyard with prisoners wandering around in a circle could be seen. When we returned, we saw that he did not paint, but his eyes absorbed every detail of the scene. “I will tell you,” Dora turned to the jailer, “what each of these people represents.” And he pointed to the thief, the forger of documents, the robber from the main road, the burglar. The jailer was amazed, for the artist precisely defined the “profession” of each of his wards. ”


After "London", Dore managed to create only illustrations for Ariosto's "Furious Roland" (1879). The artist died on January 23, 1883.