This is Gustave Dore’s Rising of the Bones (aka, Vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones, 1865, engraving), a masterwork by one of the greatest engravers and artists that I’ve yet come across.
When I started being an artist, there were certain works and creators that I was really influenced by. Artists like Michael Whelan, and Frank Miller, and maybe none more than Dore. Most of my first works were scratchboard or pen & ink, and to look at Dore’s works was to see everything that I wanted to do.
This particular piece is probably one of the few religious pieces you’ll get out of me (I can’t say as I’m much of a religious person), but I can’t deny Dore’s brilliance. This scene is one of the many fantastic biblical works that Dore produced for his version of the Bible, perhaps the most sought ever version in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It depicts the prophet Ezekial from the Old Testament, as the bones reanimate back to their human form.
My favorite part of this image is that each character is seemingly unique. There are no shortcuts here, each reanimated body brings on a life of it’s own, separate from those around it. It’s an awakening from death, and Dore balances the horror of the idea with the sense that this is truly meant to be. He uses the light in a zig zag through the center of the piece, as if forcefully pushing aside the darkness all around.
The image really highlights all of Dore’s strengths. There is the immense detail work that he’s known for, a great balance in the white and dark contrast of the work, and a composition that wonderfully ties it all together. Above all it’s a great story illustration, a moving piece that’s a perfect choice to accompany the work it illustrates.