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The Bible illustrated by Doré

 La Bibbia illustrata da Doré  DCM-009
01 October 2022

The work on the cover is an illustration by Gustave Doré (photo opposite), a French painter and engraver of great renown in the 19th century, who illustrated the great classics, including The Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, Paradise Lost and the Bible. His work on the latter exerted a great influence on religious art in the second half of the 19th century, albeit amidst much controversy.  Doré, in fact charged the sacred subjects depicted with new and unprecedented meanings.  In the words of the Musée d’Orsay, “for the first time in the history of Christian representations, scenes from the Bible are so illustrated and ‘imagined’, to the point of offending the sensibilities of some”.  The cover depicts Deborah, a female prophet and the only woman in the group of biblical judges who exercised this function for about forty years, from 1160 to 1121 BC in the ancient Land of Israel. Her story, an epic, is told twice in the Book of Judges. The first is written in prose, the second is in the form of a canticle, one of the oldest examples of Hebrew poetry, which is said to have been composed in the 12th century BC. It is also one of the earliest accounts of a woman in a heroic role. Deborah takes the field in fact during the dark years of oppression by the Canaanites.