Gustave Doré (1832-1883) - The Neophyte (First Experience of the Monastery) circa 1866-1868
Before the age of 30 Doré created over 100,000 pieces. His art spread to an unprecedented degree in Europe and the United States, both during his lifetime and after his death. He was one of the great purveyors of European culture with his illustrations of major classics.
Recreating Gustave Doré "The Neophyte” Peter Van Norden, Tony Amendola, Leo Marks, Bo Foxworth, James Sutorius, Frank Weitzel. Rory Lewis Photographer, Los Angeles.
There seemed to be no limits to Doré's creative talents; a draughtsman, caricaturist, illustrator, water colourist, painter and sculptor, he was a protean artist who worked in the main genres and formats of his era, ranging from satire to religion, and from sketches to monumental canvases.
The painting tickles the imagination, what is in the mind of the Neophyte. Is he young and idealistic? Is he wise beyond his years? Is he arrogant? What is the nature of the other monks. Are they burned-out? Disillusioned?
The portrait photoshoot enabled me to create a living depiction of the work. I chose for the Character of The Neophyte. the very talented Leo Marks. Initially I placed in his mind the character of a young monk and in the minds of the others the roles of the older monks, either sleeping, concentrating or reading. However, I decided to simplify my direction by asking the actors to imagine that they are not priests, but instead that they are waiting at a bus stop. Each with a different reason to be sitting, directing Leo. “ I said imagine you are a wanted man” and that myself the photographer has recognised you. This allowed us to create the facade he was the odd one out, just as Doré had created in his depiction. It is my belief that art should be simple, keeping your direction uncomplicated and straightforward.