Bible Illustrations

Published on by Mr. Cool

The Bible is without doubt the most important book in the history of Western civilization. It's influence is tremendous, even in countries where religion and civil laws are separated for centuries, teachings of The Bible can be seen on all levels of society. It really doesn't

matter if you are Christian, belong to some other religion or being complete atheist, it's nearly impossible to avoid its stories and morals which are addressing the essential questions of every human being:

Who am I?

Why I am here?

How should I behave in certain situation?

etc.

Gustave Dore's illustrations are definitely part of the charm of this book of all books. Life of Dore is a fascinating story itself. He was a wonderkid, maybe comparable to Mozart, standing out with his talent from tender age, carving in concrete at seven, being fully employed as master at 15 and being best paid artist in country less than a year later.

Gustave Dore lacked of formal training and this can be seen by moderately trained eyes. But his expressive power was so huge, his work, especially engravings, are still being republished more than a century after his death. His productivity was tremendous and if we look only at his illustrations, we can notice almost every week of his life a book with his work was published (obviously with many republished editions). At the peak of his popularity (and he was, by the way the most popular artist in the world for many years!), he employed about 40 workers to manage all the orders which were not made by him in all the details, but he certainly closely supervised each one of them.

Dore illustrated many literary masterpieces, including Dante's Inferno, Milton's Lost Paradise, La Fontaine's Fables, Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel and of course The Bible. He created about 240, maybe 250 (I found number 238 somewhere and 254 somewhere else, but nothing to confirm any of them) presentations of the most important scenes from the Bible, but it is sometimes hard to distinguish which is made for the book and which belongs to some other projects. We can also find the same illustrations in several slightly differentiated variations, so the establishing the exact number is almost impossible. Majority of illustrations for the Bible were made in the span of four years and I decided to present exactly one hundred of them in the same order as they appeared in one of many 'complete editions'.

Here they are:

The Creation of Eve

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The Expulsion from the Garden

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The Murder of Abel

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The Deluge

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Noah Cursing Ham

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The Tower of Babel

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Abraham Entertains Three Strangers

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The Destruction of Sodom

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The Expulsion of Hagar

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Hagar in the Wilderness

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The Trial of the Faith of Abraham

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The Burial of Sarah

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Eliezer and Rebekah

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Isaac Blessing Jacob

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Jacob Tending the Flocks

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Joseph Sold into Egypt

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Joseph Interpreting Pharaoh's Dream

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Joseph Making Himself Known to His Brethren

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Moses in the Bulrushes

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The War Against Gibeon

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Sisera Slain by Jael

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Deborah's Song of Triumph

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Jephthah Met by His Daughter

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Jephthah's Daughter and Her Companions

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Samson Slaying the Lion

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Samson and Delilah

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The Death of Samson

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Naomi and Her Daughters-in-Law

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Ruth and Boaz

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The Return of the Ark

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Saul and David

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David Sparing Saul

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Death of Saul

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The Death of Absalom

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David Mourning over Absalom

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Solomon

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The Judgment of Solomon

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The Cedars Destined for the Temple

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The Prophet Slain by a Lion

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Elijah Destroying the Messengers of Ahaziah

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Elijah's Ascent in a Chariot of Fire

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Death of Jezebel

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Esther Confounding Haman

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Isaiah

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Destruction of Sennacherib's Host

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Baruch

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Ezekiel Prophesying

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The Vision of Ezekiel

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Daniel

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The Fiery Furnace

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Belshazzar's Feast

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Daniel in the Lion's Den

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The Prophet Amos

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Jonah Calling Nineveh to Repentance

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Daniel Confounding the Priests of Bel

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Heliodorus Punished in the Temple

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The Nativity

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The Star in the East

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The Flight into Egypt

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The Massacre of the Innocents

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Jesus Questioning the Doctors

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Jesus Healing the Sick

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Sermon on the Mount

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Christ Stilling the Tempest

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The Dumb Man Possessed

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Christ in the Synagogue

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The Disciples Plucking Corn on the Sabbath

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Jesus Walking on the Water

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Christ's Entry into Jerusalem

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Jesus and The Tribute Money

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The Widow's Mite

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Raising of the Daughter of Jairus

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The Good Samaritan

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Arrival of the Samaritan at the Inn

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The Prodigal Son

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Lazarus and the Rich Man

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The Pharisee and the Publican

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Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

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Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery

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The Resurrection of Lazarus

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Mary Magdalene

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The Last Supper

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The Agony in the Garden

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Prayer Of Jesus in the Garden Of Olives

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The Betrayal

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Christ Fainting under the Cross

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The Flagellation

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The Crucifixion

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Close of the Crucifixion

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The Burial of Jesus

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The Angel at the Sepulcher

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The Journey to Emmaus

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The Ascension

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The Martyrdom of St. Stephen

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Saul's Conversion

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The Deliverance of St. Peter

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Paul at Ephesus

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Paul Menaced by the Jews

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Paul's Shipwreck

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Death on the Pale Horse

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It is interesting to note Dore got first offer to illustrate the Bible from Hachette, an established publishing house which demanded from artist to travel to the Holy Land and make illustrations based on real buildings and scenery. The artist was not fond of this idea, because he believed he can do better if he focuses on dramatic expressions of scenes, what he eventually did few years later in chiaroscuro for Alfred Mame et fils.

The fact is Dore never depended on imagination only. He was frequent visitor of Bibliotheque Nationale and spend a lot of time studying details presented in then very popular books about Egypt. Rather than copy them, he incorporated patterns, reliefs and small elements into compositions of his paintings and illustrations, so we can find amusing mix of things as they really were, things as he felt should be and things as they were presented elsewhere.

Another notable characteristic of Dore's illustrations for The Bible is exposition of characters which is achieved by presenting them larger than they should be against the backgrounds, what definitely adds to dramatic, even mystical effects and eventual success of the book.

Like it or not, Gustave Dore's Bible is one of the most important books of all times.

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