Discover all 14 City of Paris museums

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Georges Clairin - Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt
Armand Point - Peacock Casket
Camille Alaphilippe - Woman with Monkey
Aristide  Maillol - Seated female nude with her left hand on her head. Study for The Mediterranean
Louis-Robert Carrier-Belleuse - The Struggle for Life vase
Léon  Lhermitte - Les Halles
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Ambroise Vollard in a Red Scarf
Jean Carriès - My Portrait
Emile Gallé - Two-handled vase
Georges-Henri Lemaire - Silence or Immortality
Charles-Alexandre Giron - Woman wearing gloves, also known as The Parisienne
Paul Sérusier - Tricoteuse au bas rose
Pierre-Auguste  Renoir - Portrait of Madame de Bonnières
Berthe Morisot - Jeune fille en décolleté - La fleur aux cheveux
Pierre Bonnard - Conversation à Arcachon
Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat - Dish : The judgment of Paris
Joseph-Marius Avy  - Bal blanc
Marie Constantine Bashkirtseff - Parisienne, Portrait of Irma
Maurice Denis - Female bathers at Perros-Guirec
Fernand Pelez - La Vachalcade
Camille  Pissarro - Le Pont Royal et le Pavillon de Flore
Alfred Sisley - The Church at Moret (Evening)
Théophile Alexandre Steinlen - Ball on the 14th of July

The Vale of Tears

Strasbourg, 1832 - Paris, 1883
Oil on canvas
413,5 x 627 cm

The theme of the Vale of Tears, painted on a huge canvas, is inspired by St Matthew’s Gospel which recalls the words of Christ: “Come to me all you who labour and I will give you rest”. On the threshold of death, Gustave Doré summons up the light of faith which triumphs over the pain and death.

Suffering humanity turns towards the figure of the redeemer Christ carrying his cross. The light which radiates from his frail silhouette illuminates an arid, mountainous landscape. The crowds throng to these steep slopes: sovereigns and beggars, children and the elderly, men and women. Their clothes conjure up the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity.

A cradle Catholic with an anxious personality, Gustave Doré sought calm in his Christian faith. His fascination with Christ leaps out from the paintings in the Doré Gallery. This consists of some twenty large canvases commissioned from the artist in 1867, following the huge success of his illustrated Holy Bible. Like Manet, who was born and died in the same years, Doré was attacked by critics who did not understand either the unusual visionary nature of his work or the visual intelligence of his compositions. This work found a more appreciative audience in London with the opening of the Doré Gallery between 1869 and 1892, and then in the United States.

During its twenty-four year lifespan, the Doré Gallery and its twenty or so canvases received approximately 2.5 million visitors. In 1892, most of the paintings were sent to the United States to be exhibited in a touring exhibition lasting until 1898. They then sank into oblivion. They were rediscovered in 1947 in a Manhattan warehouse, sold at auction and split up.

Since 1985, three of the canvases have been part of the Petit Palais collections, including his final work: The Vale of Tears (1883). Like the other paintings in the Doré Gallery, this work is an extension of the Romantic sensibility and prefigures the Symbolist search for meaning.

Inventory number: 
Inventory number : PDUT01437
Acquisition details : Acquired with back interest on the Dutuit bequest, 1984
Room 6. Doré and the Christian tradition
Paris 1900
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