Gustave Doré

When Doré did a particularly good piece of work, in the first intoxication of joy he would run home, kiss his mother on both cheeks, and picking her up in his strong arms run with her about the rooms.

At other times he would play leap-frog over the chairs, vault over the piano, and jump across the table. And this wild joy that comes after work well done he knew for many years. In the evening, after a particularly good day, he would play the violin and sing entire scenes from some opera, his mother turning the leaves.

Illustration by G. Doré for Dante’s Inferno
Illustration by G. Doré for Dante’s Inferno.
As to his skill as a musician, is this testimonial on the back of a fine photograph I once had the pleasure of handling:

As a souvenir of tender friendship, presented to Gustave Doré, who joins with his genius as a painter the talents of a distinguished violinist and charming tenor.
G. Rossini.

The illustrations for Dante’s Inferno were done in Doré’s twenty-second year, and for this work he was decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor. He never did better work, and at this time his hand and brain seemed at their best.

Every great writer and every great artist makes vigorous use of his childhood impressions. Childhood does not know it is storing up for the days to come, but its memories sink deep into the soul, and when called upon to express, the man reaches out and prints from the plates that are bitten deep; and these are either the pictures of his early youth—or else they tell of a time when he loved a woman.

The first named are the more reliable, for sex and love have been made forbidden subjects, until self-consciousness, affectation, and untruth creep easily into their accounting. All literature and all art are secondary sex manifestations, just as surely as the song of birds or the color and perfume of flowers are sex qualities. And so it happens that all art and all literature is a confession; and it occurs, too, that childhood does not stand out sharp and clear on memory’s chart until it is past and adolescence lies between. Then maturity gives back to the man the childhood that is gone forever.