19th Century French lithographer famous for his illustrations accompanying Dante's Inferno, Cervantes' Don Quixote and Milton's Paradise Lost.

Gustave Doré

Gustave Doré was born in Strasbourg in 1832. His father was an engineer with the department of roads and bridges. Gustave was their second son.

Gustave's interest in art started early and his mother was soon convinced that he was a genius. His father's perspective was that he should study hard and prepare himself for a more stable career.

Gustave's parents took him on a trip to Paris when Gustave was fifteen. While in Paris, Gustave happened by the shop of Auber and Philipon and spent some time studying the prints in the shop window. While still in Paris, Gustave created some drawings in the same style as those in the window and brought them to the shop. M. Philipon apparently liked what he saw and persuaded M. Doré to let his son stay in Paris. Gustave signed up for a three year contract and his career as an artist was underway.

Gustave's father passed away in 1849 and the seventeen year old Gustave became responsible for providing for his mother and two brothers, fifteen year old Emile and nineteen year old Ernest (a student).

With a lot of hard work, Doré rapidly built quite a name for himself. Doré set himself the goal of illustrating all the great classics of world literature. His illustrated version of Balzac's Contes Drolatiques published in 1855 has 425 drawings.

As his interests and repertoire grew, he came to make annual visits to London. In 1875, he published his illustrated work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It contained about fourty full page etchings illustrating each of the key events in the poem.

He produced one more illustrated major work, the Orlando Furioso by Ariosto.

Gustave Doré died of a stroke in Paris on January 23, 1883 at the age of fifty one. He is buried in Le Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris.

Trivia: Sarah Bernhardt is said to have had an affair with Gustave Doré.

Source: the introduction to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (published in 1970 by Dover Publications, Inc. - see above) written by Millicent Rose.

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