“SIMPLY THE BEST SET OF ILLUSTRATIONS EVER DONE ON THE CRUSADES”: DORÉ’S CRUSADES, WITH 100 FOLIO PLATES
(DORE, Gustave) MICHAUD, Joseph François. History of the Crusades. Philadelphia: George Barrie, circa 1880. Two volumes. Folio (11 by 15 inches), original three-quarter brown pebbled morocco gilt, raised bands, moire endpapers, all edges gilt. $4000.
First American edition and first edition in English of Michaud’s History of the Crusades to appear with Gustave Doré’s illustrations, with 100 dramatic full-page wood engravings by Doré, two folio volumes in handsome publisher’s morocco-gilt.
While The Crusades never proved to be one of Doré's most popular works, it is certainly one of his most powerful. "With this set of 100 full-page folio engravings, Doré for once restrained his wild imagination to do a straight historical subject, and he showed once again that there was no field of visual expression at which he did not excel… Though the Crusades engravings are historical, they lose none of Doré's normal personality and vigor. They are simply the best set of illustrations ever done on the Crusades" (Malan, 137). "Looking at Doré's total accomplishment, one can hardly deny that he is not merely one of the most popular but also one of the greatest of all illustrators… Perhaps Taine summed up Doré's appeal most eloquently: 'every imagination appeared languid in comparison with his. For energy, force, superabundance, originality, sparkle, and gloomy grandeur, I know only one equal to his—that of Tintoretto" (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 329). "On the general history of the Crusades the best single work is still J. Michaud, Histoire des Croisades" (Schaff-Herzog, 318). Michaud's comprehensive Histoire des Croisades was first published in French in seven volumes between 1812 and 1822. The Doré-illustrated edition was first published in France in 1877; this first English-language edition (no edition was published in England—possibly due to Michaud's less-than-reverent treatment of Richard the Lionheart) was first issued in parts from 1878-80, and then issued in book form by George Barrie of Philadelphia, with undated title pages, in two folio volumes measuring 11 by 15 inches, shortly thereafter. Malan, 287.