Gustave Doré as a Bible Illustrator

The display of material from the Ramseyer-Northern Bible Society Museum Collection for the period of September through November 1999 will illustrate the work of Gustave Doré as a Bible illustrator.

In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, many Bibles were printed in the United States in the languages of the new immigrants. In the large Family Bibles, by far the most popular illustrator was the French artist Gustave Doré, who produced no fewer than 228 pictures for an illustrated Bible in 1866. The separate illustrations have been taken from a couple of Scandinavian Family Bibles which had fallen to pieces from heavy use.The reproductions were not always of the highest quality, nor was the paper on which they were printed, but the genius of Doré in portraying epic moments in Scripture still shines through the inferior medium.

Gustave Doré was born in Strassburg in 1832. The city had a strong German element, but had changed hands several times between German and French occupation. Doré's own background was French and he showed an ability in art from a very early age. His parents were not inclined to encourage this aspect of their son's character, but on a trip to Paris at the age of 15, he saw some caricatures in the magazine Journal Pour Rire and felt that he could do better.

He took some samples to the editor and at the age of 16 began doing caricatures for the journal and continued for the next three years. He stayed in Paris, his parents having been urged by the editor of Journal Pour Rire to let their son go to school there. He turned quickly to his artistic inclinations, at first in oil, as was customary, but then in wood engraving, which became his major vehicle.

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Pen illustration Pen illustration
Pen illustration Pen illustration


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