Gustave Doré as a Bible Illustrator

Doré's output was enormous; more than 20,000 drawings published in his lifetime.

He received tremendous public coverage with his illustrations of popular books. Besides the Bible, which appeared in 1866, he produced illustrations for Rabelais, Balzac, Dante (all three books of the Divine Comedy), Don Quixote, LaFontaine and Shakespeare. He also illustrated the extremes of Milton on the one hand and a number of children's books on the other.

For Americans, his illustrations of Chateaubriand's Atala are most interesting, as they include pictures of the jungles of the Mississippi and the Falls of Niagara, neither of which, of course, Doré had ever seen.

But he looked for the dramatic, the sensational, the epic parts of the books which he illustrated, which means that in his Biblical illustrations he tends to concentrate on the battles, the conflicts, the dramatic episodes, and there are few pictures which illustrate the quiet or meditative aspects of Scripture.

With the twentieth century and the change in attitudes towards art, his romantic and sometimes historically inaccurate pictures came under criticism, but for the turn of the century, his Bible illustrations were just what the readers wanted.

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