Gustave Doré

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Gustave Doré
Rocky Landscape with two Figures on Horseback
Watercolor with black ink on paper.
13 7/8 x 20 1/2 inches (352 x 521 mm)
The Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.

Known primarily as a book illustrator, Gustave Doré also made a number of landscape paintings and drawings. These works were similar in style to those by British landscapists such as John Martin (1789-1854) or William Turner (1789-1862), with an application of watercolor rendering a romantic and almost dream-like effect. Doré explained to Miss Amelia Edwards that when he made studies "en plein air" that he preferred the medium of watercolor instead of ink, gouache, or oil (Annie Renonciat, La vie et l'oeuvre de Gustave Dore.́ Paris, 1983, p. 228). As in this drawing, Doré often included miniscule figures engulfed by untamed and natural surroundings.
According to an inscription on the verso, the location of the drawing was a mountain road in Gavarnie in the Hautes-Pyrénées approximately five thousand feet above sea level; the inscription, "Le Chao," refers to a specific point on this road. Engravings after Doré's drawings of "la cirque de Gavarnie" accompanied the 1867 publication of Henry Blackburn's The Pyrenees: a Description of Summer Life. The Morgan Library & Museum drawing is related to the illustration of "Chaos" on page 128 of this publication. Henry Blackburn describes the specific location illustrated by Doré: "Here on the path to Gavarnie, the pedestrian comes, gradually, upon a scene of grandeur and wild confusion, which is almost terrible to contemplate; the road, winding through a maze of giant boulders, which seem to have been cast about as if in some fearful explosion. . . We see nothing like the traces of an ordinary upheaving of nature, and few marks of glaciers; everything is as its name implies, chaos, a group of mountain fragments thrown down like hail, turning the bed of the valley into a ruin." (Henry Blackburn, The Pyrenees..., p. 131).
The dramatic views of Gavarnie certainly inspired Doré, and his studio sale included at least three other drawings from this location (sale, Paris, Atelier Dore,́ 10 April 1885-15 April 1885, lots 109, 111, and 240). Another watercolor with the same title and slightly larger dimensions appeared in an exhibition of Doré's drawings, watercolors, and prints at the Salons du Cercle de la Librairie in March 1885 (Georges Duplessis, Catalogue des Dessins, Acquarelles et Estampes de Gustave Dore.́ Paris: Cercle de la Librairie, 1885, p. 95, no. 158). A related view of Gavarnie, also executed in watercolor, is located in the Musée Pyrénéen, Lourdes. -- Esther Bell, 2010.
Stamped in red ink at lower right, artist's stamp (Lugt 681a): "Atelier G. Dore" enclosed in a circle.


Inscribed in graphite at upper right on verso, "Le Chao route. . .Gavarnie. . . 1ère Etude. . .Vente Atelier Doré 116."

Atelier Gustave Doré (Lugt 681a); sale, Atelier Gustave Doré, 10 April 1885-15 April 1885, lot 116; Joseph F. McCrindle, New York (McCrindle collection no. A1221).
Associated names: 

McCrindle, Joseph F., former owner.

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