Gustave Doré is without doubt one of the most prodigious artists of the 19th century. At barely fifteen years of age, he began a career as a caricaturist and then professional illustrator – which brought him international fame – before embracing all areas of creativity: drawing, painting, watercolour, engraving and sculpture.
Doré also applied his immense talent to different genres, from satire to history painting, delivering in turn, enormous canvases and more intimate paintings, flamboyant watercolours, virtuoso washes, incisive pen and ink drawings, engravings, fanciful illustrations, as well as Baroque, humorous, monumental and enigmatic sculptures.
As an illustrator, Doré set himself the challenge of the greatest texts (the Bible, Dante, Rabelais, Perrault, Cervantes, Milton, Shakespeare, Hugo, Balzac, Poe), which turned him into a real purveyor of European culture. He thus occupies a special place in contemporary collective imagination, from van Gogh to Terry Gilliam, not to mention his undoubted influence on comic books; there are many aspects that this first retrospective in thirty years will explore at the Musée d'Orsay.