Christ: His Birth and Ministry


Events in the life of Christ are vividly portrayed in illustrations by Gustave Doré of France (1832–1883). These scenes from the Savior’s life are among 241 illustrations Doré produced for the Old and New Testaments.

Doré’s Bible is significant in the history of religious illustrations. Most of the old masters had painted biblical scenes from the context of their own cultures, as if the events had taken place in their own countries and time. But Doré did not follow that traditional approach. Instead, using sources available to him, he researched the culture, dress, plants, animals, architecture, and landscape of the Bible and attempted to represent them with honesty.

Doré chose not only dramatic, grandiose scenes—but also quiet, intimate moments. And he breathed realism and passion into them, bringing the stories to life.

The art form Doré used was wood engraving, a standard process for duplicating illustrations in books during the nineteenth century. First, the artist drew the scene upon a block of wood. Next, an engraver made a series of cuts—of varying depths and widths—in the same block of wood, reproducing the artist’s design. (Two names appear at the bottom of each of Doré’s illustrations—his own and the engraver’s.) Then, through a process called electrotyping, a metal plate was made from the original wood block, so that the illustration could be duplicated over and over without wearing down the original. Finally, ink was placed on the metal plate, and the image was printed on paper.

Doré’s Bible first appeared in 1865. The scenes in this issue of the Tambuli are from an 1866 edition. In a later issue, we will publish additional Doré illustrations that highlight the final week of Christ’s life.

[illustration] “And, lo, the star, which [the Wise Men] saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matt. 2:9).

[illustration] “And [the shepherds] came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16).

[illustration] “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46–47).

[illustration] “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, … Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:7, 13–14).

[illustration] “And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt. 13:54–55).

[illustration] “There arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:37–39).

[illustration] “And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them” (Matt. 15:30).

[illustration] “Jesus took Jairus’ daughter “by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway” (Luke 8:54–55).

[illustration] “Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John … up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun. … And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him” (Matt. 17:1–3).

[illustration] “He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:38–39).

[illustration] “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:13–14).