Le néophyte. (The Neophyte). c. 1877. Etching. Béraldi 55. 23 1/2 x 28 3/8 (sheet 26 1/2 x 33). Printed on cream chine collé mounted onto a heavy white wove paper support sheet. Unsigned. A rich, well-inked impression of this highly dramatic and impressive image. $2,500.
The central figure is the young monk, Frère Angel, from George Sand's novel, Spiridion first published in 1838. Doré made a lithograph of the figure in 1855, and subsequently executed 2 oil paintings. In 1875 he did another lithograph of the subject. The etching above went through several trial plates. Obviously the subject fascinated the artist.
Gustave Doré was a celebrated 19th-century French illustrator. He displayed artistic talent from the age of five, and at fourteen, published his first album, Les Travaux d’Hercules. He debuted at the Salon in 1847 with two drawings, and was hired by Charles Philipon to produce caricatures for the Journal pour Rire. Already well-known by the age of sixteen, he continued his high school studies at the Lycée Charlemagne, copied paintings at the Louvre, and studied prints at the Bibliothèque Nationale. In the Salon of 1864, he exhibited paintings as well as religious sculptures, and also began to submit cartoons to publications such as the Journal pour tous, Cariacature, and the Le Charivari. In all he produced some total 10,000 lithographic illustrations. At the age of 23, Doré turned from print journalism to making wood engravings for classic texts, and would illustrate some twenty editions between 1852 and 1883. He had a gift for dramatizing his subjects--a talent that was complemented by his incredibly vivid imagination and speedy execution
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