Gustave Doré as a Bible Illustrator

Doré began his artistic work in oil, but was interested in the idea of being an artist of the people, which meant that he would have to achieve a much wider distribution of his work that he could do in the traditional galleries.

So he turned to book illustration, which suited both his style and his temperament. Book illustrations had usually been done with copper-plate etching, which was expensive. But a new style had emerged in England with the work of Thomas Bewick, who revived engraving on wood and changed the method of engraving from the usual cross-hatched style to the use of parallel lines of varying strength. This suited Doré's subject matter, as he tended towards the epic and spectacular, influenced, some said, by the scenery around his native Strassburg.

The artist did not do the actual engraving himself, but left that part of the work to professional engravers. Doré's output was so prolific that at one time he was engaging no fewer than 40 engravers to produce the blocks of his work. The Bibles on display were produced using metal printing plates, so there is a loss of detail in the transfer, but Doré's love of the dramatic and spectacular still shows through the loss of emphasis in the plates and the inferior paper on which most of the Bibles were printed.

[click thumbnail for large view]

Pen illustration Pen illustration Pen illustration
Pen illustration Pen illustration Pen illustration

Back to Top

Back to Displays

Ramseyer Home