Born in the town of Strasbourg in the Alsace province East of France to parents of education and means, Paul Gustave Dore happened upon a lucrative business that made him the bane of Parisian art critics but the most sought after illustrator in England and The United States. His father was a civil engineer and he was the second of three male siblings. His father hoped to break him of his wild imaginations and his propensity to put them to paper with pencil. While accompanying his father and older brother in Paris, Gustave discovered the allure of Paris and made known his intention to remain and pursue his career as an artist (Hubbard 5-8). His work is generally considered as Romanticism and he has been labeled one of the greatest illustrators of his time. His lack of formal training created both derision among art critics and a cult following among common people who could relate to his work. He possessed a grasp of what would be popular among the common folks of his time and a flair for the dramatics in his works. It could be said that the Parisian Art world did not side with him because he did not struggle or starve as most artist did and his financial success was a threat to the very core of Art (McWilliam 829-830). His was a time of great discovery, both scientific and artistic, and an industrial revolution the likes of which gave wealth to the very few. When he abandoned caricature work, he did try to redeem himself but, could not break the yoke of commercial production and its promise of wealth (Hubbard 5-8). His inability to sway his critics and peers in his birthplace and formative city (Paris) forced him to ply his wares in England and across the Atlantic to the United States. Gustave Dore became the darling of England and America, and managed to make millions during his half century of life and produced a staggering amount of sketches. At one point of his career as an illustrator, he employed forty blockcutters (WebMuseum 1). Gustave Dore dabbled in both painting and sculpture during his later years and was purported to be a violinist and tenor singer (Hubbard 5-8). The work of Gustave Dore is both loved and spurned during his lifetime but, he certainly maintained a life of wealth his father could not have made and he owed it all to his prodigious pencil. The following works by Gustave Dore, we will examine his favored subjects and themes that showed the suffering of poor people and presented these in surrounding treatment that emphasized those suffering. . Extracted from a book by Blanchard Jerrold and illustrated by Gustave Dore. The book was commissioned as a type of guide through the many streets and venues of London, in essence a Tourist Book (Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk). Instead it became a rendition of the lower class and their plight. A story in the Port Cities: Leisure, health and housing - Social conditions in the 19th-century Website cites the following: An artist's impression of poverty
For those whose imaginations could not be stirred by social commentators like Booth and Mearns, the French artist Gustave Dore (1832-1883) visited London and produced horrific illustrations of life in the port areas that shocked public opinion. Although a commercial success, many of the critics disliked his work. The critics' reaction
Several critics were angry that Dore had appeared to focus on the poverty that existed on the waterfront, rather than on the finer aspects of life in the metropolis. He was accused by the Art Journal of 'inventing rather than copying'. Completely missing the point, The Westminster Review complained that 'Dore gives us sketches in which the commonest, the vulgarest external features are set down'. (PortCities London.org)
Analysis of Formal Elements – One of the most fundamental elements of art is line. [Sayre 82] 1
Variety and Quality of Lines
Homeless people of London deadened on a bench, third quarter 19th century Figure 1 – Museum of Louvre department...
References: Duncum, Paul, How 35 Children Born between 1724 and 1900 Learned to Draw, Studies in Art Education, Vol. 26, No. 2. (Winter, 1985), pp. 93-102.
Grew, Raymond, Picturing the People: Images of the Lower Orders in Nineteenth-Century French Art, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 17, No. 1, The Evidence of Art: Images and Meaning in History. (Summer, 1986), pp. 203-231.
Sayre, Henry M., (2004), A World of Art – Rev. 4th ed. Pg 81-165
Smith, Timothy B., The Ideology of Charity, the Image of the English Poor Law, and Debates over the Right to Assistance in France, 1830-1905, The Historical Journal, Vol
Spartacus schoolnet, UK, http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jdore.htm
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