Posted by John Bidwell
Thursday, June 16, 2011 5:50:00 PM
Felix Jean Gauchard (1825–1872) after Gustave Doré (1832–1883). Rejected woodblock for the headpiece, “Comment Gargantua nasquit en façon bien estrange,” chapter six in François Rabelais, Oeuvres (Paris: Garnier Frères, 1873). Purchased on the Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2011.
After illustrating Rabelais in 1854, Gustave Doré revisited this classic text to produce his magnificent 1873 edition containing more than seven hundred wood-engraved illustrations in two folio volumes. The Morgan has regular and special copies of that edition along with more than a hundred of the original blocks engraved by artists specially trained to interpret the gouache drawings Doré made directly on the blocks. This block was never published. After seeing a proof, Doré rejected the design and made a new one somewhat closer to the narrative thread of the story. Rabelaisian in its own right, the rejected design shows the soon-to-be mother of Gargantua reeling from the aftereffects of a prodigious dinner.