Gustave DorÃ(c) and the Modern Biblical Imagination
explores the role of biblical imagery in modernity through the lens of Gustave DorÃ(c) (1832-83), whose work is among the most reproduced and adapted scriptural imagery in the history of Judeo-Christianity. First published in France in late 1865, DorÃ(c)'s Bible illustrations received widespread critical acclaim among both religious and lay audiences, and the next several decades saw unprecedented dissemination of the images on an international scale. In 1868, the DorÃ(c) Gallery opened in London, featuring monumental religious paintings that drew 2.5 million visitors over the course of a quarter-century; when the gallery's holdings travelled to the United States in 1892, exhibitions at venues like the Art Institute of Chicago drew record crowds. The United States saw the most creative appropriations of DorÃ(c)'s images among a plethora of media, from prayer cards and magic lantern slides to massive stained-glass windows and the spectacular epic films of Cecile B. DeMille.
This book repositions biblical imagery at the center of modernity, an era that has often been defined through a process of secularization, and argues that DorÃ(c)'s biblical imagery negotiated the challenges of visualizing the Bible for modern audiences in both sacred and secular contexts. A set of texts whose veracity and authority were under unprecedented scrutiny in this period, the Bible was at the center of a range of historical, theological, and cultural debates. Gustave DorÃ(c) is at the nexus of these narratives, as his work established the most pervasive visual language for biblical imagery in the past two and a half centuries, and constitutes the means by which the Bible has persistently been translated visually.
About the Author
Sarah C. Schaefer is an historian of modern art and visual culture, whose work focuses on religious media, technologies of reproduction, medieval revivalisms, and archaeological representation. Her writings have appeared in Word & Image, Material Religion, and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. She has curated several exhibitions, including The World Turned Upside Down: Apocalyptic Imagery in England, 1750-1850 at Marquette University's Haggerty Museum of Art, and is currently working on a show that explores the manuscripts of J. R. R. Tolkien through the lens of his career as a medieval philologist.