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A Family of Spanish Smugglers (Translation) Les contrebandiers espagnols (Primary Title)
Gustave Doré may be best known as an engraver, having illustrated famous literary works by Milton, Cervantes, and Dante, but he was also a well-regarded sculptor and painter in his day. Born into a wealthy family, Doré successfully produced popular caricatures and illustrations for many 19th-century French Publications. However, when his paintings were not critically appreciated in France, he opened the Doré Gallery, a successful commercial enterprise in London. A Family of Spanish Poachers was probably painted following Doré’s second trip to Spain in 1861-62, and is notable for its departure from the romanticized carefree Gypsy of fiction. Unlike the smiling Gypsy musicians portrayed by Manet and other artists at the time, these Gypsies appear to be nervous, exhausted, and very wary of their surroundings—a reflection of their sometimes terrifying existence as the most castigated and abject cultural group in 19th-century Europe. In a dry and sparsely vegetated landscape, against a startlingly blue sky, two men appear to be guarding the group in shifts; while one man reclines and rests, the other holds a rifle and watches for any approaching threats. Because of their patched and ragged clothing, these figures, especially the woman who protectively holds her child, would have been understood to represent Gypsies. The alertness of the dogs to something outside of the frame underscores the group’s vulnerability and adds to the general unease and bleakness of the scene.
Signed lower right: 'Gve Doré'
By exchange, the following gifts and bequests: Miss Ellen D.C. Blair; Estate of Ailsa Mellon Bruce; Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Glasgow; John C. and Florence S. Goddin; Mrs. Charles S. Guthrie; Regina V.G. Millhiser; Dr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Mourot; Mrs. E.A.Rennolds...........
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC
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19th Century European Gallery
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