Friday, May 8, 2015

Inpiration: Gustave Doré

Illustration of a text by Rabelais; I can't think of another description than the offspring of Hyeronimus Bosch and Walt Disney's "Alice in Wonderlands".

I'm inaugurating an "inspiration" type of post, with Gustave Doré (1832-1883), mostly known for his illustration work (and most notably engraving), but who was also a painter and a sculptor. I encourage you to read his biography to have a broader view on his work, and on the context of his life. Wikipedia and Google should be good starting points.

As you can see from the pictures presented here (selected on a very arbitrary basis) much of his illustration work took place around fantasy literature (in which I include works related to the bible/old testament which, if we remove the religious aspect, is in many cases close to some typical themes of fantasy works).

It's interesting to notice that his life extended (roughly) between the first publication of Frankenstein (1818) which can probably be seen as the first popular fantasy novel, and the first massive wave of fantasy/early sci-fi novels and writers such as R.L. Stevenson, E.A. Poe, J. Verne, H.G. Wells, B. Stoker, etc. I guess that time of massive changes in the "western world", including a much wider freedom with respect to religion, was an ideal place for both "anything is possible" enthusiasts and heirs of the earlier romantic era (and from the Renaissance also, maybe), dreaming of different places and different people/creatures populating them, either driven by their sole imagination, or by a will to escape their world and their time.

To me, Gustave Doré's work is a perfect vehicle to transport the reader to other worlds. I'm stunned by his visual impact and by the construction of his illustrations and paintings. Engravings are particularly appealing to me for their sober and clean images with deep contrasts. I also admire the varsity of his style, as you can see from the selection shown here.

Here's a link to a nice compendium: . You can find more of his work easily.


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