The Crusaders' War Machinery Gustave Doré Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Crusaders' War Machinery was one of a series of 100 compositions produced by French illustrator Gustave Doré. They were used to bring Michaud's The History of Crusades to life, with the imagery placed alongside his original texts.

The artist was approaching the end of his career by this point, and would slow his productivity in later years. By this point he had already completed countless commissions for various publications and also established himself as the most popular artist within London and Paris for these types of projects. He became well connected with a number of publishers in both nations and was asked to illustrate a wide range of books, including ancient and modern literature, as well as religious scripture. His crusade series came in the late 1870s and re-worked a new edition of Michaud's earlier work, appending his texts with carefully chosen images that could bring his words to life. This groundbreaking publication continues to be studied today by historians, comparing its texts with the information that we have today around the various events described in this book.

The Crusaders' War Machinery captures an army carefully preparing an item of their war machinery, with their target in the background. We find a beautifully constructed castle which sits at the rear of the piece, whilst men in the foreground busily get their tools in place. The attack appears imminent, and the main weapon displayed here is known as a catapult. This large item is being pulled back, with many men required for this task. Rocks would be loaded onto it, ready to fire at the castle. The soldiers realised that their best hope of breaching this well designed castle was through the brute force of this machine. They may well have had several at hand for this attack, in the hope of breaching different parts of the castle at the same time, leaving the defensive force considerably more vulnerable. The main work within The Crusaders' War Machinery would have been the amount of figurative art found here, with many dozens of soldiers included within this composition.

The item today resides within a private collection and is listed as a lithograph. Clearly, as part of the book publication many more examples of this artwork will exist around the world and there are still new editions of the History of the Crusades that continue to be published today for those looking to undestand this important period of history whilst also admiring the skills of Gustave Doré. This two volume series featured 100 drawings in total and was published in Paris by Hachette and Co., in the French language as used originally by its author, Michaud. Since his creation, many historians have added to and amended our knowledge of the Crusades but his work still remain respected and an important moment in recording the various events that took place centuries ago.