Karl Friedrich Hieronymus was a German baron who joined the Russian military. He served until 1750, in particular taking part in two campaigns against the Ottoman Turks. Returning home, Münchhausen supposedly told a number of outrageous tall tales about his adventures, retold by others.
A certain eighteenth-century German noble ventured abroad for military service and returned with a series of amusingly outrageous stories. Baron Munchausen's astounding feats included riding cannonballs, traveling to the Moon, and pulling himself out of a bog by his own hair. Listeners delighted in hearing about these unlikely adventures, and in 1785, the stories were collected and published as Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia. By the nineteenth century, the tales had undergone expansions and transformations by several notable authors and had been translated into many languages.
A figure as colorful as the Baron naturally appeals to the artistic imagination, and he has been depicted in numerous works of art. His definitive visual image, however, belongs to Gustave Doré. Famed for his engravings of scenes from the Bible, the Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, and other literary classics, Doré created theatrical illustrations of the Baron's escapades that perfectly recreate the stories' picaresque humor.
Dover (2005) unabridged republication of the revised edition published by Cassell, Petter, and Galpin, London and New York, 1865.
French illustrator Gustave Doré (1833-83) began his prolific career at the age of 15, and his dramatic engravings have exercised an incalculable influence over latter-day artists. The remarkable scope of his work ranges from Milton, Dante, and the Bible to Rabelais, Shakespeare, and street scenes of 19th-century London.