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This volume, as its title indicates, is a collection of engravings illustrative of the Bible—the designs being all from the pencil of the greatest of modern delineators, Gustave Dore. The original work, from which this collection has been made, met with an immediate and warm recognition and acceptance among those whose means admitted of its purchase, and its popularity has in no wise diminished since its first publication, but has even extended to those who could only enjoy it casually, or in fragmentary parts. That work, however, in its entirety, was far too costly for the larger and ever-widening circle of M. Dore's admirers, and to meet the felt and often-expressed want of this class, and to provide a volume of choice and valuable designs upon sacred subjects for art-loving Biblical students generally, this work was projected and has been carried forward. The aim has been to introduce subjects of general interest—that is, those relating to the most prominent events and personages of Scripture—those most familiar to all readers; the plates being chosen with special reference to the known taste of the American people. To each cut is prefixed a page of letter-press—in, narrative form, and containing generally a brief analysis of the design. Aside from the labors of the editor and publishers, the work, while in progress, was under the pains-taking and careful scrutiny of artists and scholars not directly interested in the undertaking, but still having a generous solicitude for its success. It is hoped, therefore, that its general plan and execution will render it acceptable both to the appreciative and friendly patrons of the great artist, and to those who would wish to possess such a work solely as a choice collection of illustrations upon sacred themes.
The subject of this sketch is, perhaps, the most original and variously gifted designer the world has ever known. At an age when most men have scarcely passed their novitiate in art, and are still under the direction and discipline of their masters and the schools, he had won a brilliant reputation, and readers and scholars everywhere were gazing on his work with ever-increasing wonder and delight at his fine fancy and multifarious gifts. He has raised illustrative art to a dignity and importance before unknown, and has developed capacities for the pencil before unsuspected. He has laid all subjects tribute to his genius, explored and embellished fields hitherto lying waste, and opened new and shining paths and vistas where none before had trod. To the works of the great he has added the lustre of his genius, bringing their beauties into clearer view and warming them to a fuller life.
His delineations of character, in the different phases of life, from the horrible to the grotesque, the grand to the comic, attest the versatility of his powers; and, whatever faults may be found by critics, the public will heartily render their quota of admiration to his magic touch, his rich and facile rendering of almost every thought that stirs, or lies yet dormant, in the human heart. It is useless to attempt a sketch of his various beauties; those who would know them best must seek them in the treasure—house that his genius is constantly augmenting with fresh gems and wealth. To one, however, of his most prominent traits we will refer—his wonderful rendering of the powers of Nature.
His early wanderings in the wild and romantic passes of the Vosges doubtless developed this inherent tendency of his mind. There he wandered, and there, mayhap, imbibed that deep delight of wood and valley, mountain—pass and rich ravine, whose variety of form and detail seems endless to the enchanted eye. He has caught the very spell of the wilderness; she has laid her hand upon him, and he has gone forth with her blessing. So bold and truthful and minute are his countless representations of forest scenery; so delicate the tracery of branch and stem; so patriarchal the giant boles of his woodland monarchs, that the' gazer is at once satisfied and entranced. His vistas lie slumbering with repose either in shadowy glade or fell ravine, either with glint of lake or the glad, long course of some rejoicing stream, and above all, supreme in a beauty all its own, he spreads a canopy of peerless sky, or a wilderness, perhaps, of angry storm, or peaceful stretches of soft, fleecy cloud, or heavens serene and fair—another kingdom to his teeming art, after the earth has rendered all her gifts.
Paul Gustave Dore was born in the city of Strasburg, January 10, 1833. Of his boyhood we have no very particular account. At eleven years of age, however, he essayed his first artistic creation—a set' of lithographs, published in his native city. The following year found him in Paris, entered as a 7. student at the Charlemagne Lyceum. His first actual work began in 1848, when his fine series of sketches, the "Labors of Hercules," was given to the public through the medium of an illustrated, journal with which he was for a long time connected as designer. In 1856 were published the illustrations for Balzac's "Contes Drolatiques" and those for "The Wandering Jew "—the first humorous and grotesque in the highest degree—indeed, showing a perfect abandonment to fancy; the other weird and supernatural, with fierce battles, shipwrecks, turbulent mobs, and nature in her most forbidding and terrible aspects. Every incident or suggestion that could possibly make the story more effective, or add to the horror of the scenes was seized upon and portrayed with wonderful power. These at once gave the young designer a great reputation, which was still more enhanced by his subsequent works.
With all his love for nature and his power of interpreting her in her varying moods, Dore was a dreamer, and many of his finest achievements were in the realm of the imagination. But he was at home in the actual world also, as witness his designs for "Atala," "London—a Pilgrimage," and many of the scenes in "Don Quixote."
When account is taken of the variety of his designs, and the fact considered that in almost every task he attempted none had ventured before him, the amount of work he accomplished is fairly incredible. To enumerate the immense tasks he undertook—some single volumes alone containing hundreds of illustrations—will give some faint idea of his industry. Besides those already mentioned are Montaigne, Dante, the Bible, Milton, Rabelais, Tennyson's "Idyls of the King," "The Ancient Mariner, Shakespeare, "Legende de Croquemitaine," La Fontaine's "Fables," and others still.
Take one of these works—the Dante, La Fontaine, or "Don Quixote"—and glance at the pictures. The mere hand labor involved in their production is surprising; but when the quality of the work is properly estimated, what he accomplished seems prodigious. No particular mention need be made of him as painter or sculptor, for his reputation rests solely upon his work as an illustrator.
Dore's nature was exuberant and buoyant, and he was youthful in appearance. He had a passion for music, possessed rare skill as a violinist, and it is assumed that, had he failed to succeed with his pencil, he could have won a brilliant reputation as a musician.
He was a bachelor, and lived a quiet, retired life with his mother—married, as he expressed it, to her and his art. His death occurred on January 23, 1883.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE STAR IN THE EAST
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS
JESUS QUESTIONING THE DOCTORS
JESUS HEALING THE SICK
SERMON ON THE MOUNT
CHRIST STILLING THE TEMPEST
THE DUMB MAN POSSESSED
CHRIST IN THE SYNAGOGUE
THE DISCIPLES PLUCKING CORN ON THE SABBATH
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it, wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.—Luke ii.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him; In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem! in the land of Juda, are not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of the shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently, what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they parted; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.—Matthew ii, I-10.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.—Matthew ii 13-15.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.—Matthew ii, 16-18.
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother, knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that, ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke ii, 41-52.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy;—and he healed them.—Matthew iv, 23—24.
And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him. And he opened his mouth and taught them.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.—Matthew iv, 25; v, 1-2, 28-29, viii, I.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?—Matthew viii, 23-27.
As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.—Matthew ix, 32-34
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.
And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.—Matthew xiii, 53-58
And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.
And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?
And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungered, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.—Mark ii, 23-28.
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