[Christian Martyrs, Reign of Diocletian Rome AD 303]

Method Steel engraving
Artist Herbert Bourne after Gustave Doré
Published London: October 19th 1875. Published by Fairless & Beeforth, Dore Gallery, 35, New Bond Street, W. Copyright Registered. Entered According to Act of Congress in the year 1876, by Frank Hunter Potter in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington
Dimensions Image 558 x 807 mm, Plate 672 x 915 mm
Notes A atmospheric large-scale engraving set within a Roman amphitheatre. Numerous martyrs, men and women, lie dead on the ground of the empty arena, with wild animals prowling and gnawing at the bodies. Set at night, the only light source comes from the angels hovering over the fallen martyrs. Behind the angels in the foreground, the rest of the host issues forth from heaven.

From 1865 onwards, Doré began to regularly submit large-scale religious works to the Salon. He depicted Biblical stories such as Moses in the Bulrushes, Christ Leaving the Tomb, and The Flight into Egypt. These works, however, do not appear to have been the result of a theological conviction, but motivated by commercial considerations. To honour the launch of the Doré Gallery in 1868, the managers of the institution, Fairless and Beeforth, commissioned Doré to paint a ten feet high canvas displaying a multitude of Pagan deities reeling before a triumphant Christ. A clause in Doré's contract stipulated that he would also make a watercolour version of the picture for an engraver to work from, and that he would receive fifteen percent of the entrance fees, engraving and catalogue sales. Bourne was chosen to engrave the plate, along with other large scale works like the current example. The Doré Gallery was a huge commercial success, gaining millions of visitors over the course of 25 years, and earning the approbation of the British evangelist Charles Surgeon, who praised it as the 'greatest collection of religious paintings in the World.'

Printed on india-laid paper with Artists Proof blindstamp in bottom left, and with pencil signatures of Doré and Bourne below image.

Herbert Bourne (1820 - 1907) was a British line engraver who worked in London. He exhibited from 1831 to 1855, and then at the Royal Academy from 1859 to 1885.

Paul Gustave Doré (1832 -1883) was a French artist, engraver, illustrator and sculptor. Doré was born in Strasbourg and began work as a literary illustrator in Paris. He won commissions to depict scenes from texts by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton and Dante. This was followed by work for British publishers. Amongst these commissions, Doré was charged with the task of producing a new illustrated English Bible. The English Bible, published in 1866, was a great success. Playing upon this popularity, Doré had a major exhibition of his work in London in 1867; a show which subsequently laid the foundations for the Doré Gallery in Bond Street.

Condition: Some rubbing and dirt staining to platemark. Minor time toning and staining to margins, not affecting plate. Tears and creases to edges of sheet, not affecting plate. Otherwise an excellent dark impression.
Framing unmounted
Price £700.00
Stock ID 51555