The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Doré, Paul Gustave

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Doré, Paul Gustave
Edition of 1920. See also Gustave Doré on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

DORÉ, dō'rā', Paul Gustave, French artist: b. Strassburg, 6 Jan. 1832; d. Paris, 23 Jan. 1883. He early showed signs of remarkable artistic talent: after his fourth year he was seldom without a pendl in his hand, and in his 11th year he executed drawings on borrowed lithographic stones. In 1847 he was sent to the Lycée Charlemagne at Paris and presently his remarkable skill as a designer and draughtsman of humorous and satirical subjects gained him a place among the illustrators of the Journal pour Rire. From 1848 lo 1853 he contributed to the Salon a series of pen drawings which attracted much attention. In 1857 he obtained honorable mention for his landscapes and a picture of the Battle of Inkermann. Meantime his fame as an illustrator of books was rapidly rising, and it is in this branch of art that his fame is mainly founded — one in which his strongly marked individuality, pictorial and decorative sense, grotesque humor and vivid imagination found full play. He began his embellishment of the world's literary masterpieces by his drawings for Balzac's ‘Contes drolatiques’ (1856); followed by illustrations for Montaigne (1858), the ‘Inferno’ (1861); ‘Don Quixote’ (1863); the ‘Purgatorio’ and ‘Paradiso’ (1864-66); and the Bible (1865-67). His productivity was extraordinary, and included paintings in water colors and oils and sculpture. After 1870 he painted for the most part Scriptural subjects; and on the strength of his large canvas, ‘Christ Leaving the Prætorium,’ he was hailed in England as a great poet-preacher and enjoyed a great vogue in that country, and a permanent gallery of his work was established in London. Some of his canvases were so large that he had to erect ladders and scaffolding in his studio in order to reach them. In sculpture his most successful essays were the colossal vase now in the Golden Gate Park at San Francisco and the monument to Alexandre Dumas in the Place Malesherbes, Paris.

Doré's juvenile and adolescent successes reacted disastrously on his after-career. They prevented him from applying himself steadily to a mastery of the technique of drawing; he lacked self-control; from first to last he was deficient in interpreting the subtleties of expression; he attempted to excel in too many fields; and so great was the market demand for his work that he wore himself out by overproduction. He was appointed a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1861 and an officer of the Legion in 1879. Consult Beraldi, ‘Les graveurs du 19ième siècle’ (Paris 1885); Delorme, ‘Gustave Doré’ (ib. 1879); Jerrold, B., ‘Life of Gustave Doré’ (London 1891); Roosevelt, ‘Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré’ (New York 1885).