The book however, by shear breadth of Dore’s output, is in no way a comprehensive overview of his output, and is more a very cursory sampling of the different projects and mediums this renaissance man of the 19th century put his hand to.
“I am sorry to have made a mere 100,000 drawings by the age of 33” – Gustave Dore
So it is not perfect, but it is essential and makes a great companion to those quickly going out of print, but wonderful, 1970s Dover paperback compilations of Dore’s work. Whoever the editor at Dover Publishing in the 1970s who spearheaded reprinting Dore’s acclaimed works in affordable but quality paperback volumes, they created a great boon to art lovers everywhere.
Dore was the master of the meticulous and the detailed and the imaginative, a single one of his painstaking engravings having more complexity and depth and range than most modern day artists produce in a year.
There is this school of thought, that I do not subscribe to, that detail is bad, or unnecessary, or overkill. Largely spearheaded by modern artists incapable of doing detail, so they attack the idea of detailed illustrations to justify the value of their limitations. Simplicity and minimalism have their uses, but they will never replace, or supplant, or overshadow, prodigious talent, prodigious passion, and prodigious detail, all in service to a prodigious imagination. And Gustav Dore brought all that immense talent to every drawing he did. As an artist he has my highest recommendation.
All of the Dover Dore books are collectible, but the four best are the DORE BIBLE, DORE DANTE’S DIVINE COMEDY, DORE’s ORLANDO FURIOSO, and Dore’s IDYLLS OF THE KING.
And the DORE: MASTER OF IMAGINATION book serves as a bit more upscale exploration of Gustav Dore’s life and work. Price your copy of that and the Dover Titles below!
A look back at some really old comics by an even older comics fan
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