Gustave Doré

gustav+dore+ancient+mariner Gustave DoréIf you want to see a fantasy artist who to this day transcends the genre, you need look no farther than Gustave Doré. His best work –and even the worst is far above the best of most other artists–is still in print today, easily attainable in inexpensive editions and prints. Chances are you’ve all already seen his work, even if you didn’t know his name.

Of particular interest to those of us interested in fantasy are his monumental illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, Orlando Furioso, Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King and even Cervantes’s Don Quixote. They are a bit formal compositionally, at least by today’s standards, but nonetheless powerful. His visions of hell were as borderline scandalous when issued as Dante’s work had been when it was first issued.

All of the illustrations presented below are steel (or, in some cases, wood) engravings. He was also highly regarded as a painter in his day.



  1. Mgnostic

    If you ever get a chance to snag one of the large format printings of Dante’s Inferno do so. They were the fancy high priced coffee table book of the day but I guess there were a lot of them printed because a leather bound copy isn’t that hard to find. Some people have an over inflated notion of their value so don’t over pay. There is just something really cool about a hundred year old book with the huge massively detailed etchings.

  2. TheProf

    You’re right about the book. Many years ago, I saw a battered copy of ‘Paradise Lost’, with The Doré Illustrations on a barrow stall on Shudehill market in Manchester, (UK). The guy wanted £5, (about $40 in today’s money), so I decided to think about it. When I got back he had packed up and gone. I’ve regretted not buying it ever since; I could have dumped the broken spined book part and framed the engravings.

  3. Mouse-Bear

    Do you like Zdzisław Beksiński? His paintings are creepy-awesome.

  4. lovecraf

    Never heard of him before, but I sure like what I looked at on Google. I’ll have to look at more.