Gustave Doré: a feeling for nature

On 21 February 2020, by Philippe Dufour

In this landscape, the artist uses light to pluck the sensitive chord of the forest.

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), Ruin in the Undergrowth, oil on canvas signed and dedicated "à mon ami Vaucorbeil" (To my friend Vaucorbeil), 92 x 73.5 cm.
Result: €24,400

Although Gustave Doré is now remembered chiefly for his engravings, he is also known for landscapes imbued with Romanticism and even a touch of the sublime, as this painting shows. The work is dedicated to Auguste Emmanuel Vaucorbeil, the artist's childhood friend. The composer, who was appointed director of the Paris Opera in 1879, wrote a meditation for piano echoing Doré's painting The Novice (Le Néophyte), which was successfully presented at the Paris Salon in 1868. As a music lover, the painter must have been very moved by this. One of his friends once said, "Gustave has two passions: drawing and music. A Rossini aria is enough to make him lay down his pencil." He never missed a premiere in Rue Le Peletier or at the Theâtre des Italiens, possessed a beautiful tenor voice, and played the violin. His friend Vaucorbeil gave him a few lessons, which soon proved unnecessary as Doré was such a good pupil, according to a book published in 1885 by Blanche Roosevelt.

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