Our visual image of Victorian London is largely fixated on its sordidness—cramped streets, dark alleys, desolate slums, overcrowding, and illicit dens. Two people are responsible for creating in our heads such pictures of destitution and filth—one is Charles Dickens, whose works largely revolved around grinding poverty, and the other is French illustrator Gustave Doré. Doré (1832 – 1883) was a prolific engraver, artist, illustrator, and sculptor, who became very popular both in France and England by being an extremely successful illustrator for books and magazine.
He began his career early—at the age of fifteen—working for the French paper Le journal pour rire. Before he was twenty-five, his illustrations had adorned the books of several prominent writers of his time such as Cervantes, Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, Byron, and Dante. His illustrations of Cervantes's Don Quixote left such an indelible impression on the collective imagination of the public that it forever changed how subsequent artists, stage and film directors would represent the various characters in the book in their medium. Doré's illustrations for the English Bible in 1866 was such great success that it earned him a major exhibition of his work in London, eventually leading to the foundation of his very own Dore Gallery.
In 1869, Dore teamed up with journalist Blanchard Jerrold to produce a comprehensive portrait of London. For the next four years, Jerrold and Dore explored the dark underbelly of the largest, most fashionable, and most prosperous city in the world, visiting night refuges, staying in cheap lodging houses and making rounds of the opium den. The duo were often accompanied by plain-clothes policemen. They travelled up and down the river and attended fashionable events at Lambeth Palace, the boat race and the Derby.
Note: Doré produced so much work that I will feature his work in two tranches. This first series features works by Doré from 1847 to 1870. A later series will feature works from 1867 to 1883.
This is part 5 of a 12-part series on the earlier works of Gustave Doré:
1857 Vision of Hell (Dantés Inferno) published by Cassell & Co. continued from part 4 of this series:
But Virgil rous'd me: "What yet gazest on?
Wherefore doth fasten yet thy sight below
Among the maim'd and miserable shades?"
Then my sight
Was livelier to explore the depth, wherein
The minister of the most mighty Lord,
All-searching Justice, dooms to punishment
The forgers noted on her dread record.
Came drawn from underneath in flakes, like scales
Scrap'd from the bream or fish of broader mail.
"That sprite of air is Schicchi: in like mood
Of random mischief vent he still his spite."
"That is the ancient soul
Of wretched Myrrha"
"O senseless spirit! let thy horn for thee
Interpret: therewith vent thy rage, if rage
Or other passion wring thee."
"This proud one
Would of his strength against almighty Jove
Yet in th' abyss,
That Lucifer with Judas low ingulfs, lightly he plac'd us.
"Look how thou walkest. Take
Good heed, thy soles do tread not on the heads
Of thy poor brethren."
Then seizing on his hinder scalp, I cried:
"Name thee, or not a hair shall tarry here."
Not more furiously
On Menalippus' temples Tydeus gnaw'd,
Than on that skull and on its garbage he.
Then, not to make them sadder, I kept down
My spirit in stillness.
"Hast no help
For me, my father!"
"Then fasting got
The mastery of grief."
"Lo!" he exclaim'd, "lo Dis! and lo the place,
Where thou hast need to arm thy heart with strength."
By that hidden way
My guide and I did enter, to return
To the fair world.
Thus issuing we again beheld the stars.
1859 Battles and fights of the Italian War of Independence, composed and drawn by Gustave Doré:
|Bataille de Magenta. Prise de Robecchetto (3 juin 1859) |
lithograph 26 x 39.7 cm (image)
|Bataille de Marignan, (Melegnano) 8 juin 1859 |
lithograph 20.5 x 34.1 cm (image)
|Bataille de Montebello (20 mai 1859) |
lithograph 26 x 40 cm (image)
|Bataille de Solférino (24 juin 1859) |
lithograph 26 x 39.9 cm (image)
|Bataille de Magenta (4 juin 1859) |
lithograph 32.3 x 48 cm (image)
|Bataille de Montebello |
lithograph 32.2 x 47.9 cm (image)
|Bataille de Solferino |
engraving 32.1 x 47.8 cm (image)
|Combat de Marignan (Melegnano, 8 juin 1859) |
lithograph 25.8 x 35.8 cm (image)
|Combat de Palestro |
lithograph 20.6 x 34.3 cm (image)
|Combat de Varèze (26 mai 1859) |
lithograph 24.7 x 38.1 cm (image)
|Episode de la journée de Solférino |
lithograph 20.5 x 34.1 cm (image)
|Prise d'un drapeau autrichien à Magenta |
lithograph 20.7 x 34.2 cm (image)
|Prise de Ponte Nuovo di Magenta (4 juin 1859) |
lithograph 26 x 29.5 cm (image)
1859 The Desert Dwelling, or Adventures of a Family:
|Jamais on oiseau n'a troublé ces aux silencieuses.|
|C'etait un magnifique spectacle à contempler.|
|C'etait un squelette...|
|C'etait le doigt de Dieu nos montrant le chemin.|
|Il ne nous restait plus qu'à remercier le ciel de notre déliveance.|
|Il saisit la queue et tira de toutes ses forces.|
|Les bois étaient très-épais.|
|L'élan, d'un vigoureux coup de tète, me lance en l'air à une grande hauteur.|
|Les constructeuis de ce parapet étaient sous mes yeux.|
|Celui qui était en tète prenait déjà son élan pour sauter.|
|J'eus la mortification de Manquer celui que je visais.|
|Son long corps était suspendu tout droit au-dessus de l'autre.|
|C'était un spectacle étrange que ces deux créatures enroulées, se tordant sur l'Herbe.|
|Le camp du Sucre.|
|Le pic principal brillait devant nous.|
|Les bètes de proie en détruisaient chaque année une grande quantité.|
|Combat d'une martre et d'un porc-épic.|
|Je voyais sa longue qu-s'abaissait sur la bande enragée.|
|Sur leurs talons se trouvait une bande de loups.|
|c1860-69 Oceanides (Naiads of the Sea) |
oil on canvas 127 x 185.5 cm
|c1860-70 Summer |
oil on canvas 266.4 x 200.1 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
|1861 Dante and Virgil in the Ninth Circle of Hell |
oil on canvas 315 x 450 cm
Musée de Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse, France
|1861-62 Dwarf Musicians of Granada |
pen and black ink with light brown wash over graphite on wove paper 22 x 17.5 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
|1862 A Stream in the Forest of Fontainbleau |
oil on canvas 73 x 91.4 cm
|1862 Little Red Riding Hood |
oil on canvas 65.3 x 81.7 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
|1862 Pauline Viardot Gambling at Baden-Baden |
graphite, pen and grey and brown ink, brush and brown and grey wash, heightened with white and grey gouache on wove paper 23 x 29 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
|c1862-65 The Deluge |
pencil, black chalk and wash heightened with white on paper
Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona
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Photo by Ken Howie