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Gustave Dore

Gustave Dore

French ( 1832 - 1883 )

Paul Gustave Dore (January 6, 1832 - January 23, 1883) was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Dore worked primarily with wood engraving and steel engraving.

Dore was born in Strasbourg and his first illustrated story was published at the age of fifteen. At age five he was a prodigy artist already creating drawings. When he turned 12 he began to carve his art in stone. Dore began work as a literary illustrator in Paris. Dore commissions include works by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton and Dante. In 1853 Dore was asked to illustrate the works of Lord Byron. This commission was followed by additional work for British publishers, including a new illustrated English Bible. In 1863, Dore illustrated a French edition of Cervantes's Don Quixote, and his illustrations of the knight and his squire Sancho Panza have become so famous that they have influenced subsequent readers, artists, and stage and film directors' ideas of the physical "look" of the two characters. Dore also illustrated an oversized edition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven", an endeavor that earned him 30,000 francs from publisher Harper and Brothers in 1883.

Dore's English Bible (1866) was a great success, and in 1867 Dore had a major exhibition of his work in London. This exhibition led to the foundation of the Dore Gallery in New Bond Street. In 1869, Blanchard Jerrold, the son of Douglas William Jerrold, suggested that they work together to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. Jerrold had gotten the idea from The Microcosm of London produced by Rudolph Ackermann, William Pyne, and Thomas Rowlandson in 1808. Dore signed a five-year project with the publishers Grant and Co that involved his staying in London for three months a year. He was paid the vast sum of pounds 10,000 a year for his work. He was mainly known for his paintings, contrary to popular belief about his wood carvings. His paintings are world renowned, but his woodcuts are where he really excelled.

The book, London: A Pilgrimage, with 180 engravings, was published in 1872. It enjoyed commercial success, but the work was disliked by many contemporary critics. Some critics were concerned with the fact that Dore appeared to focus on poverty that existed in London. Dore was accused by the Art Journal of "inventing rather than copying." The Westminster Review claimed that "Dore gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down." The book was also a financial success, and Dore received commissions from other British publishers.

Dore's later works included Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton's Paradise Lost, Tennyson's The Idylls of the King, The Works of Thomas Hood, and The Divine Comedy. His work also appeared in the Illustrated London News.

Dore continued to illustrate books until his death in Paris in 1883. He is buried in the city's Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

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