Monday, January 23, 2012

Public Amusements in Paris With Gustave Doré

by Stephen J. Gertz

A remarkable and very important suite of lithographs from early in Doré’s career, Les différents publics de Paris contains twenty-one original lithographs, superbly colored by a contemporary (publisher’s?) hand.

The series depicts Parisian society at the circus, the theater, the public garden, at magic performances, a puppet show in the park, a reading in the imperial library (this is a particularly famous Doré image), and at the amphitheater of the medical school, among other settings.`

“These twenty lithographs are studies of massed humanity, ranging from audiences at the great Parisian theaters to the crowds at a wrestling match or a Punch and Judy show. Without exception they are striking in conception and fertile in detail... each of Doré’s scenes is based on close observation, and the album provides valuable testimony to the manners of the day."

“[‘Les Travaux d’Hercule’] and the more imposing albums which followed [Les différents publics de Paris] remain too little known even among Doré’s ardent admirers because of their great scarcity. They show the artist at his most engaging, bearing witness to a lively sense of humor, now broad, now sophisticated, which was muted in his later illustrations” (Ray p. 327).

“All three of these lithographic albums are rare. Most copies were long ago taken apart to sell the lithographs individually.

"There are also full-color versions of the Ménagerie and Publics, and those are particularly desirable” (Dan Malan,  Gustave Doré, Adrift on Dreams of Splendor. A Comprehensive Biography and Bibliography).


DORÉ, Gustave. Les différents publics de Paris. [Paris]: Au Bureau du Journal Amusant, n.d. [1854]. Lithographic printed title and 20 contemporary hand-coloured lithographic plates, all mounted on stubs. Oblong quarto (262 x 350 mm.).

Ray: Art of the French Illustrated Book 241; Rahir: Bibliothèque de l’amateur, 404; Beraldi VI.30; Leblanc 90.

Images courtesy of Ars Libri Ltd., with our thanks.


  1. Since Stephen Gertz has quoted me herein, I will share a fascinating discovery about the Differents Publics de Paris. For 150 years, the incorrect date has been listed for this set of Dore lithographs. Their date has always been listed as 1854, the same as the other set Menagerie Parisienne. But the two albums have different publishers. MP is listed as Bureau du Journal pour Rire and DPP is listed as Bureau du Journal Amusant. JPR did not change its name to JA until 1856. I discovered in the Bibliographie de la France that the national library, the Bibliotheque Nationale, actually listed DPP on Nov. 7, 1856 (V46#45) on p.1148, listed as Estampes #2257. Dan Malan

    1. Thanks you, Dan, for stopping by and sharing this info. I saw the two dates when checking OCLC and KVK and presumed the earlier date to be correct as first issue. All best, Steve Gertz


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