Paul Gustave Doré was born on January 6th Born in Strasbourg, France in 1832. He is considered one of the most important, productive and successful book illustrators and mediators of European culture of the late 19th century.
He was predominantly self-taught and even as a child he showed his inclinations for painting and drawing. In 1845 Doré came to Paris. In 1848 he became an employee of the “Journal pour rire”.
With lush and bizarre imagination, Gustave Doré created dreamy scenes and illustrated works from world literature such as Dante's “Inferno”, Cervantes “Don Quixote”, John Milton's “ Paradise Lost ”, Edgar Allan Poe's“ The Raven ”, works by Homer, Lord Byron, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and many others. The illustration for “Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri in 1868 was the culmination of Doré's career.
His diverse oeuvre spans many directions from comics to Bible illustrations. Doré even influenced Hollywood film production. Some representations in the well-known films like, King Kong, some creatures of the Star Wars universe, Totenbaum in "Sleepy Hollow" are similar to Doré's illustrations. He was also active as a painter, draftsman, etcher and later even as a sculptor.
The artist had a peculiar style. He liked to use the Chiaroscuro technique, which contrasts light and dark painting. Fine details, realistic representations of fantastic creatures or showmen gave his paintings a deep and mystical meaning. His drawings appear minimalistic but dramatic, radiate deep emotions and create a powerful image. The works that shaped him were grotesque, macabre, full of fantasy and exaggeration. Gustave Doré documented the Crimean War with his drawings, dealt with the Paris Communards and the proletariat in London and painted many watercolors of landscapes. Two of Doré's most successful oil paintings were "Paolo and Francesca da Rimini" (1863) and "The Neophyte" (1868). Illustrations for the English Bible (1866) and sheets for Charles Perrault's fairy tales were also very successful.
In 1867 Doré had a large exhibition of his works in London. This led to the establishment of the Doré Gallery on New Bond Street.
Doré did not make all of his engravings himself. He had a studio with 40 employees who could satisfy the great demand for Doré's illustrations and drawings. The galleries in Vienna, London and other cities sold his original works, as well as reproductions of the book illustrations, which was financially very profitable for the artist and enabled a carefree life.
Five years before his death, in 1877, he turned Doré of sculpture. Out of passion and without special training, the master created ingenious marble and bronze sculptures that shaped the sculpture art of the 1870s. His last work was a memorial to Alexandre Dumas.
Doré never married and continued to live with his mother in Paris. He worked very productively and diligently, despite this, on the one hand he was plagued by the feeling that he was not done enough and on the other hand he never felt properly understood. Nobody knows how many drawings he made. He worked from early in the morning until late in the evening and made thousands of drawings.
Gustave Doré died of a heart attack on January 23, 1883.