1. If there’s one thing that we’ve all learned from this blog, it’s that not all art means anything or makes sense.

    But, yeah, I think that it has something to do with a gun instead of a bow and arrow, and how the gun is deadlier than the bow.

  2. If this had been done last week would you have asked? I’d have assumed it was irony and shock value for the sake of irony and shock value which I would assume modern artists do these things because they can.

    Anyway, I imagine this was probably a study that arose from a doodle. He was probably sketching things in his sketch book for the sake of forms, and was probably had a few sketches of pistols, and some skulls, and separate sketches of cherubim and just thought it’d look neat to put them together. I don’t think we really need to think it means anything.

    Nor do I think he was necessarily intending to develop this into a “big” work with the implication that there must be “meaning”.

  3. The skulls are of humans with unrequited love?

    Don’t mess with Love, expletives?

    Love makes you wanna bone?

  4. Some people really, REALLY love their guns. Now you know why.

    It helps if your mental soundtrack while reading this comment is Bon Jovi.

    “You give love… a bad name.”

  5. My familiarity with Doré is because of his illustrations for Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner“, and I concur with Andréa @1: he had a penchant for creepy compositions. My primary question is whether this was a solitary work, or part of a larger sequence that would provide more context.
    Searching for the title (in English) produced several sources for the image, but no explanations. One source kindly offered to license the image for a mere €475.00, and was even so helpful as to date the artwork, claiming that it had been produced in 1754, which was 78 years before Doré was born. Caveat Emptor!

  6. P.S. @ B.A. – I was not able to find the original title, but Doré would probably have written it in French, not English. I did find another (equally mercenary) German source, which identified the figure as “Amor” rather than “Cupid”.

  7. KIlby, if they’re alternate names for the same thing, what difference does it make if there are alternate translations? William-Adolphe Bouguereau “A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros” also called “…Cupid” and “…Love.”

  8. @ Andréa – Or it might just deepen the mystery. The image above might be a preliminary drawing for the sculpture, but that is far from certain. However, hunting in the museum’s archive of other works by Doré revealed that he had done a lot of work in London (I later discovered that he had a contract that kept him there for three months of every year), so it is entirely possible that he may have given either of these works a title in English, instead of French.

  9. Did you forget how to love, girl?
    Did you forget how to fight?
    Point blank
    They must have shot you in the head
    ‘Cause point blank
    Bang bang, baby, you’re dead
    [Monsieur B. Springsteen]

  10. Andrea, Love Triumphs Over Death seems to be an entirely different work: For one, Cupid’s not packing heat.

    But REGARDING the sculpture… How is lying on a pile of skulls “conquering death”? Sculpture I Don’t Understand.

  11. Fascinating to read – thanks for the link. Says the woman who has several books on reliquaries and catacombs (those of Paris and others).

  12. My interpretation is that Cupid is depressed that love always ends in death and is contemplating suicide.

  13. @ B.A. – The picture you linked to was not yet visible when I posted my last comment. It’s awfully nice of Bill to let that one go through, considering that he has sent some comics to the Arlo page for considerably less provocation.
    In any case, I don’t think that Eros / Amor / Cupid are necessarily equivalent to each other (nor to “cherubs” in general), and the interpretations for each name may depend upon the language in which it is used. I’d prefer to let Doré say what he meant in the title, but since nobody has been able to figure out where/when/why this drawing was made, let alone what name it originally had, I think everyone’s free to form his or her own opinion.

  14. My first thought regard old artworks is to dig through Google Books and The Internet Archive for period analysis.

    Although I found several books discussing Dore’s life and work in general terms and some Biblical illustration, without digging through every page of every text available I didn’t find anything displaying the above illustration.

    What I did find, however was this fascinating edition of Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales that he illustrated:


  15. Does anyone here have easy access to a library or museum holding this book?

    Catalogue de l’oeuvre complet de Gustave Doré
    Author: Henri Leblanc
    Publisher: Paris : Ch. Bosse, 1931.
    Dor, ̌ Gustave, — 1832-1883–Bibliography.
    Doré, Gustave — catalogue raisonné

  16. Mitch4 – I distinctly remember some of his illustrations from The Inferno, so you are definitely on the right track .

  17. This reminds me: I was discussing Dante’s Inferno with a friend earlier this week, and she said she’s sure she read it in middle school (c.2000). Does anybody actually read this in middle school?

  18. Kilby, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess I’m less strict (within reason) about the content of comments than of posts. I won’t claim this is entirely rational.

    Also, I’ve always liked that painting.

  19. Oh. And the cartoon you referenced was Arlo’d not just because of the “two small curves and a pair of dots,” but because of where the responses were likely to go.

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