"STAKED HIS CLAIM TO BE CONSIDERED THE LEADING BOOK ARTIST OF HIS TIME": THE LEGEND OF THE WANDERING JEW, WITH 12 WONDERFUL PLATES BY DORÉ
DORE, Gustave. The Legend of the Wandering Jew. A Series of Twelve Designs by Gustave Doré, with Explanatory Introduction. Chicago and New York: Belford, Clarke & Company, . Folio (12 by 14-1/2 inches), original navy pictorial cloth gilt, bevelled boards, patterned endpapers, all edges gilt.
Early American issue of this scarce Doré title, with 12 full-page folio wood-engraved plates by Doré, in original pictorial cloth.
"Over the next two years [Doré's illustrated edition of] Balzac's Contes Drolatiques, one of his masterworks, and La Légende du Juif Errant, with its 12 immense designs, staked his claim to be considered the leading book artist of his time" (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 327). "Today, few people have ever heard of this story, but it was quite popular in the 19th century and before… These illustrations are indeed worth a thousand words. Their size enhances their power, combining religion, horror, mysticism, fantasy, adventure, and morbid humor. This work, much more than [Doré's] Rabelais or Balzac, is the true precursor of his great folios to come. This is the work that dazzled the critics; they had not previously imagined that such effects could be produced on wood engravings. This is where Doré began to take the art of the common people, and elevate it to the level of fine art" (Malan, 43-45). The pictorial front cover was also designed by Doré, based on Doré's frontispiece illustration included in the French first edition of 1856, but dropped from all subsequent editions. The 24-line poem that provides captions for each illustration is by Pierre-Jean de Beranger; the introduction explaining the legend is by Pierre Dupont. Malan, 275. Large contemporary ink gift inscription dated 1886.
Near-fine condition. Scarce and desirable in the original cloth and in this condition.