Cervantes was 57 years old when the first part of Don Quixote de la Mancha was published in 1605. The second part was released in 1613, three years before the death of the author, whose renown was beginning to spread. The work became an immediate success and remains so to this day
He inspired playwrights, engravers and of course, painters, among them, Gustave Doré, Charles Antoine Coypel, Charles Joseph Natoire and Honoré Daumier.
Coypel's works illustrating the story of Don Quixote were painted between 1715 and 1735 and were intended to be used as cartoons in the production of Gobelins' tapestries. Coypel used these paintings to present an entertaining and humorous interpretation of the novel to his contemporaries.
Like those of Coypel, the paintings of Natoire were tapestry cartoons. They were commissioned by the Farmer-General (Fermier général"), Pierre Grimod du Fort, Comte d'Orsay, and painted between 1735 and 1744, but unlike his contemporary, Natoire presents a more heroic interpretation of the story of Don Quixote.
In the 19th century Daumier amongst others produced drawings and paintings which dealt with the characters, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. The subject remained very popular amongst artists of the 20th century, be it in sculptures, in paintings or in drawings. These two icons, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, have also found their way into popular imagery..