Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
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Tusche, tone and stone: 19th C. news illustration
Background information
* Harper's Weekly*
United States, 1857-1916

Thomas NAST

*L'Assiette au Beurre*
France, 1901-1912

Bernard NAUDIN
United States, 1876-1918

founder & publisher

Friedrich GRAETZ



Frederick OPPER


Charles J. TAYLOR

James Albert WALES [JAW]

Germany, 1896-1944


Joseph B. ENGL

Heinrich KLEY



Bruno PAUL

Theophile Alexandre STEINLEN
* Judge*
United States, 1881-c.1947

James Albert WALES [JAW]

Bernard GILLAM

F. Victor GILLAM


Judge artists JAW, the Gillam brothers
and others also worked for Puck
*Le Rire*
France, 1893-c.1914


Charles HUARD


Félix-Edouard VALLOTTON

* * *
Related links
(Additional links may also be found on a journal's index page).

Michigan State University virtual exhibition:
Immigration and Culture: Ethnic Images from the Appel Collection

Revolution and Social Upheaval: France 1789-1939, syllabus and image banks, from Skidmore College.

Caricatures from the French penny press during The Siege and the Commune of Paris, and other photographic and documentary materials of the period (1871) in the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University.

Periodyssey, specializing in unusual American periodicals

Background information

Well before radio broadcast the news or television brought it flickering into the living room, even before the development of easily portable cameras and film, illustrations of news events and political opinion could only be produced graphically, and that required the hand of the artist. Periodicals printed their illustrations from wood or steel plate engravings, copper plate etchings and lithographs made with crayon stick and tusche on stone. The growing use of photo-engraving (photo-gravure) early in the 20th century added pictures of 'real' people and places to the journals. By the late 1930s, photo journalism had largely supplanted graphic journalism, with the noteable exception of courtrooms (until recently). This section of Graphic Witness is dedicated to an exploration of a small portion of that evocative graphic imagery, which was once the only way to illustrate the news.

Where did graphic news start? The history of satire as graphic caricature, published and collected in what were then contemporary anthologies, goes back (at least) to 18th Century British artists like William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson and James Gillray. Political events (revolutions in the British North American colonies and in France, as well as the Napoleonic Wars), coupled with the development of cheaper, faster and easier to use printing technologies encouraged an explosive growth in the numbers of illustrated newspapers and periodicals. Journals devoted to political and social commentary proliferated on both sides of the Atlantic.

In France, Charles Philipon founded Le Charivari in 1832 (after an earlier publishing effort, La Caricature, was silenced by the State). Le Charivari survived and influenced other publications, notably its British counterpart, Punch, subtitled "the London Charivari."

By the mid-19th century in America, and following in this tradition, came Harper's Illustrated Weekly (1857), the newspaper associated with the influential artist/illustrator Thomas Nast. After the Civil War Puck (1876) and Judge (1881) were founded. They employed what were then relatively new methods for printing color lithography in many of their illustrations. Among their counterparts in France were Le Rire (1894) and L'Assiette au Beurre (1901); in 1896, Simplicissimus was founded in Germany. Each of these, and a host of other publications provided graphic social commentary and political views using caricature, satire and humor.

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