- Paperback: 241 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications; Illustrated edition (1 June 1974)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 048623004X
- ISBN-13: 978-0486230047
- Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 1.9 x 30.5 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 839 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dore Bible Illustrations Paperback – 1 Jun 1974
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From the Back Cover
Nowhere but in the Bible were dramatic textual material and the artistry of Gustave Doré more perfectly matched. The Book of Books seemed to unleash a new power of creation in Doré not apparent in his previous work. In the Creation scenes, the horrifying visions of the Flood, the battle sequences with their monumental crowds, the plates depicting the life of Jesus—many of which have now become the standard iconography—and finally the vision of the New Jerusalem, Doré reached the fullest expressions of his extraordinary talent.
This book collects all 241 plates—long out of print—that Doré executed for the Bible. In these plates, reproduced from outstanding early editions, the artist not only captures the dramatic intensity of the Scriptures, but sustains it longer than any other single artist was able to do. In addition, Doré reimagined all the scenes, so that what he produced was not a mere reworking of what centuries of other artists had already done, but a new and fresh visual interpretation of the Bible.
Each plate is accompanied by the verses from the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible that the scene depicts, and an Introduction by Millicent Rose covers Doré's life and art in general. This is a sumptuous book that everyone, from those interested in Scripture to lovers of great art, will be proud to possess.
Dover (1974) original publication.
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The reproduction quality is excellent. Upon close inspection, minute artifacts can be seen in most of the engravings. Most often they are tiny white dots in otherwise dark spaces. However, with the extraordinary density of fine lines engraved in every image, flawless pressings may have been nearly impossible. I recommend studying this book with a large magnifying glass. The naked eye doesn't do justice to the almost superhuman effort that went into the artwork. Every plate bears the monogram of both Dore and an assistant, and he clearly needed help to complete the book. Just imagining what it took to finish the book gives me carpal tunnel.
Every image is easily readable. Contrast is generally in the medium-high range, and all planes are well-defined. Many plates contain hundreds, even thousands of figures, and creating such large-scale images coherently is a feat in itself. The style Dore employs in his Bible scenes is atypical of the medium. He engraves with a woodcutter's sensibility, giving this book a distinct look. With the exception of a few uses of stippling, every plate consists only of contouring lines of varying density. True white or black spaces are practically nowhere to be found in the entire set; the hand of the artist can be seen everywhere. No shortcuts were taken, and Dore seems to say with his technique that the subject matter is important enough to demand great dedication.
After an avalanche of praise, I should note that the book isn't above reproach. Plate 103 shows some highly questionable-looking bears, plate 38 shows a camel that is wildly out of proportion, and plate 14 shows some awkwardly rendered figures. But there's another problem that pervades the series, and that's a lack of complexity. There's not much in the way of symbolism or imagination, and there are no close ups. This is a macroscopic, bird's-eye view of the Bible that's more about events than people, more about style than substance. Dore doesn't seem to have that spark of insight that defines the devotional masterpieces of Durer, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Bernini, Caravaggio, Michelangeo, Holbein, Rubens, Bosch, etc. That said, the book as a whole is immense and impressive, and very well-reproduced by Dover. Highly recommended to anyone interested in art and religion.
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