Themes

Discover the exhibition themes

Between Heaven and Earth: Ambition and Downfall

Doré had exceptional talents! He worked in a variety of media such as drawing, print, painting and sculpture, including several large, spectacular pieces. Throughout his career, he was fascinated with themes of love and sacrifice, death, artistic inspiration, fame, glory and misery.
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Youthful Endeavours: Satirical and Popular Reporter

In the earlier stages of Doré’s career, he drew satirical caricatures for the press. His work has contributed to the development of the comic strip and modern graphic novels.
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Literary Imagination

From the fairy tales and fables of Perrault and La Fontaine to the epic poems of Dante and Tennyson, from the satires of Rabelais to the melancholic and foreboding visions of Poe, Doré is probably best known for his illustrations of the classics. His vivid and extraordinary imagination can be seen in his drawings and watercolours, preparatory sketches for book illustrations, individual prints, illustrated books and monumental paintings.
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Picturesque and Sublime Landscapes

Doré painted large and atmospheric landscapes throughout his career, especially after the 1860s. The rugged and mountainous landscapes of the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Scottish Highlands were favoured settings. These appealed to North American collectors and many landscapes can be found in public and private collections on this side of the Atlantic.
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The Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871): L’Année terrible

For the duration of the Franco-Prussian War, Doré used his pencil and his brush to depict the great devastation of Paris during the siege, and the loss of his native Alsace. He elevated the French cause to the level of allegory in his great triptych of The Black Eagle of Prussia, The Enigma and The Defence of Paris.
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Visions of Spain and London

Doré captured agrarian Spain and metropolitan London, two poles in the European 19th-century cultural imagination. The exotic Iberian Peninsula, a Mediterranean gateway to North Africa and land of the gypsy, untouched by industrialization, is contrasted with the bleak poverty in the industrial metropolis of Victorian London.
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“Painter-Preacher”: Art as Religion

Religious iconography preoccupied Doré after completing an immense project: a two-volume edition of the Bible with over 200 illustrations. It became the subject for some of his largest canvases, many of which were exhibited at the Doré Gallery in London, where he received more critical acclaim than in his native France, and where he was given the title “painter-preacher.”
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Organized by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

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