Above: “Mothers Leaving Their Babies at the Foundling Hospital,” from the Illustrated London News. Image via Foundling Museum.
According to author and art historian Brian Kane, “Delacroix, Vernet, Manet, Monet, Renoir, and many other prominent artists contributed to illustrated newspapers. The influence of these graphic journalists was extensive.”
Mr. Kane makes the following observations:
1. The Van Gogh Museum alone maintains a collection of over 1,500 pages, which where amassed from various illustrated newspapers by Vincent and his brother Theo. Van Gogh wanted to be a graphic journalist. There are even samples of a few of his attempts at illustrations in the Van Gogh Museum. In his letters, Van Gogh also mentions Vierge a couple times.
2. Some of the world’s first comic strips, illustrated by Swiss schoolmaster Rodophe Topffer (1799-1846), were first published in L’Illustration in the 1840s.
3. The Illustrated London News’ Yokohama-based news correspondent, illustrator, and humorist Charles Wirgman (1832-1891) laid the groundwork for Japanese manga in 1862 with his self-published The Japan Punch.
Brian Kane continues:
“Until now, no one has had a good explanation as to the proliferation of artists in the mid-late 19th century. My theory, and as far as I know I'm the only one who has thought of this, is that the illustrated newspapers in England, Germany, and especially France became the first art primers for the middle class.
From the 1840s on, publications such as L'Illustration and The Illustrated London News were treasure troves of mass market art. Images of wars, floods, festivals, fine arts paintings, heads of state, foreign lands -- all of contemporary visual culture a child could ever want -- arrived in their homes weekly.
Since art was not taught in the primary schools, young artists would learn about art by copying images from the papers, just as you and I learned to draw from copying our favorite comics.”
In his book the Prince Valiant Companion, Brian Kane makes the case for Prince Valiant’s origins in the illustrated press.
Brian Kane's books for Fantagraphics. Thanks, Brian