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Nearly 100 striking works of art by Gustave Doré on view at the National Gallery of Canada
Gustave Doré, Souvenir of Loch Lomond, 1875. Oil on canvas, 131 × 196 cm. French & Co. LLC

OTTAWA.- From now until September 14, nearly 100 striking works of art by Gustave Doré—one of the most extraordinary artists of the 19th century—are being showcased at the National Gallery of Canada for the North American exclusive exhibition Gustave Doré (1832 – 1883): Master of Imagination. These spectacular and familiar works, in which fantasy and reality overlap, have inspired generations. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the exhibition is the first comprehensive retrospective in thirty years devoted to this tremendous artist.

A master of many genres
At just 15 years of age, Doré began his career as a caricaturist. He later became a professional illustrator, contributing to the birth of the comic strip and the graphic novel. Doré created well-known illustrations for classics such as Perrault’s Fairy Tales, Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Dante’s Inferno, as well as his extraordinary edition of the Bible. Doré also revived history painting to depict the disasters of the Franco-Prussian War from 1870–1871 and the consequent loss of his native Alsace.

Gifted with remarkable inventiveness, this ardent and prolific artist captured the intensity of nature and created otherworldly realms of fantasy. This ingenuity led him to produce large-scale canvases and enormous Baroque sculptures, as well as insightful ink drawings and detailed engravings. Unswayed by new trends, Doré was guided principally by his own extraordinary imagination and has since become a fertile source of inspiration to many 20th- and 21st-century artists and filmmakers.

A brilliant artist, reinstated
The exhibition showcases Doré’s great artistic diversity. During his lifetime, he was known mostly as an illustrator—much to his chagrin; he dreamed of becoming one of the most renowned painters of his time. Doré’s versatility can be seen across his prints, drawings, watercolours, paintings and sculptures, ranging from spectacular panoramas to intimate studies on paper. By presenting the broad range of mediums with which he worked, the exhibition seeks to re-establish Doré as a complete artist.

An exhibition with seven themes
The exhibition focuses on seven themes: following an operatic-style overture built around the exceptional loan of Poème de la Vigne—an immense bronze that belongs to the de Young Museum in San Francisco—the exhibition continues through the Satirical and Popular Reporter, Literary Imagination, Landscapes, the Franco-Prussian War, journeys in Spain and London, and finally the rebirth of Religious Art.

The exhibition is enriched with excerpts from some 20 films projected on three screens, produced by some of the world’s cinematic giants—from Georges Méliès, Jean Cocteau, Cecil B. DeMille to Jean-Jacques Annaud, and Roman Polanski —whose works were unquestionably influenced by Doré. Guests can also learn more about Doré by watching a 52-minute documentary produced by ARTE, showing in one of the exhibition rooms.

Gustave Doré (1832 – 1883): Master of Imagination brings together works from prestigious public and private collections, including the Musée d’Orsay, San Francisco’s De Young Museum, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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