R.A.H. (againstathorn) wrote,

Gustave Doré – The Matterhorn, 1873

It has happened on occasion that I’ve found myself admiring a particularly melancholy landscape painting only to discover the name Gustave Doré on the display panel. Doré, arguably the most renown illustrator of the 19th century, produced engravings for numerous literary works, including Milton’s Paradise Lost, Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Tennyson's The Idylls of the King, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and even The Bible. His illustrations are classic and I’d be surprised if someone has not encountered them, if not the actual plates but at least featured in some form of media.

Given that his engravings were obviously black & white, it’s neat to see how he utilized color in his paintings. For lack of a better word, his choice of palette could be described as “foreboding”.

So far I’ve only had the privilege of observing two of his landscapes in person—Scottish Highlands at the Toledo Museum of Art and The Matterhorn at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The latter is today’s entry for my Art for the Month of June.

Gustave Dore copy

The subject matter is not surprising, nor is the composition; Many of Doré’s engravings, particularly those for Paradise Lost and Inferno, depicted human figures dwarfed by vast, spectacular views of nature—some more quaint than others. That being said, I find it interesting that he chose natural wonders for these landscapes instead an imaginary setting, as one might expect based on his popular illustrations.

On a related note, back when I lived in Peoria I’d often visit the Cullom-Davis Library at Bradley University where I’d occupy myself for hours in their over-sized art book section. I remember they had a handsome leatherbound folio of The Doré Gallery, published in 1870, which showcased many of his engravings with beautiful printed plates. Just incredible.
Tags: art for the month of june
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