Gustave Dore at the Doheny Memorial Library

There were two Gustave Dore paintings at the Doheny Memorial Library, The Frozen Cocytus and Jephthah's Daughter. The paintings were on loan from the Southwest Museum, and were considered the only original oil paintings by this nineteenth century French artist.

The paintings hung in the Doheny Memorial Library for almost 50 years. Below are excertps from several articles:

Daily Trojan (?), 1/3/34, Dore pictures to be shown public.

"Presented to the University of Southern California during the holiday season by Dr. Milbank Johnson, vice president of the California Taxpayers' league, two large oil paintings by Gustave Dore, noted French artist of the middle 19th century, are hanging today in the Doheny memorial library on the campus....They are being retouched by a local artist preliminary to the public showing.

The larger of the two paintings, which is 12 by 17 feet, portrays the story of Jepthah and his daughter, from Chapter XI of Judges, in the Bible. The other canvas, which is slightly smaller, is based on the story of the frozen lake of Cocytus in Canto XXXII of Dante's 'Inferno.'"

Daily Trojan, October 6, 1982, p. 5. University refuses purchase offer; Two Doheny paintings reclaimed.
"Two gigantic paintings...were reclaimed by their donor and sent back East for repairs early this school year. Southwest Museum, located in Highland Park, reportedly gave the oil paintings to the university on Nov. 27, 1933, on 'permanent loan,' meaning they could be reclaimed at any time....A museum spokesman said the reclamation was part of an attempt to recover items on 'extended loans that had gone out many years ago.'....Museum director Pastrick Houlihan said the art works were sent to New York for cleaning. 'They should have come down long ago,' he said. 'The ravages of time had their effect. There's an uncontrolled environment in the library. There's no constant temperature or relative humidity.' The paintings also suffered damage from thrown objects, Houlihan said. The museum, he said, recently tried to sell the paintings to the university....'It was the second attempt to sell them (to the university),' he said. 'An earlier attempt had been made in the late '40s.' The university turned down the museum both times, he said. The outcome of the paintings has not been determined, Houlihan said. 'I think they will be sold but that's not final. if they are sold, it will be at a public auction in New York.'"
To Doheny Memorial Library


Ruth Wallach, USC Libraries
5/2003