Visions of Heaven: The Majestic Artistry of Gustav Dore


gustave dore

Gustave Dore 1832-1883
Gustave Dore was a french artist, engraver and sculptor who is remembered, primarily, for his literary illustrations of the works of Balzac, Milton and Dante. Dore also illustrated Cervantes' Don Quixote, Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and the Bible.

Something Beyond the Stars
What has always amazed us most about Dore is the majestic and ominous power of his black and white engravings depicting Heaven. Their grey-scale simplicity radiates something, indeed, beyond the stars and beyond this world.

If there is in truth a Heaven, we imagine that Dore has somehow captured something of the awesome and daunting mystery of it in his work.

Paradiso, Canto 31
empyrean
In fashion then as of a snow-white rose
Displayed itself to me the saintly host,
Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride.



Paradiso, Canto 18
Appeal to heaven
So I became aware that my gyration
With heaven together had increased its arc,
That miracle beholding more adorned.

And such as is the change, in little lapse
Of time, in a pale woman, when her face
Is from the load of bashfulness unladen,

Such was it in mine eyes, when I had turned,
Caused by the whiteness of the temperate star,
The sixth, which to itself had gathered me.

Within that Jovial torch did I behold
The sparkling of the love which was therein
Delineate our language to mine eyes.



Purgatorio, Canto 2
purgatorio
In exitu Israel de Aegypto!
They chanted all together in one voice,
With whatso in that psalm is after written.

Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,
Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,
And he departed swiftly as he came.



Paradise Lost: The Horrid Vale
paradise lost
Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames
Driven backward slope their pointing spires, and, rolled
In billows, leave in the midst a horrid vale.


Paradise Lost: Descent into Hell

Hell at last
Yawning received them whole, and on them closed;
Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.