History of Reportage Illustration

Ancient stone friezes

Telling tales of war and conquests


Bayeux Tapestry

Medieval Miniatures

17th Century

In 17th century woodcuts were used to illustrate cheap publications called broadsides and later chapbooks or rags (named after the recycled fabric they were made from). These focused on murders, robberies and executions and provided grizzly depictions of victims and consequences.

Goya Disasters of War

Nineteenth Century

By the nineteenth century news reporting had widened its scope and, with it, the breadth of material illustrated. As the market for newspapers increased the quality of the illustrations improved with the use of more expensive wood engravings and etchings. It took a while for photography to become integrated into newspaper publishing as a form of journalism, mainly because of the technical issues of printing photographs.

In Fine Art painters at the end of the nineteenth century painted social topics:

Degas Absinthe Drinkers

Sickert Camden Town Murders

Cezanne Card Players


Reportage illustration remained a mainstay of newspaper publishing well into the twentieth century.

Documentary Photography

Shirley Baker


L S Lowry

German Expressionists: Otto Dix etc

Contemporary Reportage illustration

Still exists as a way of providing a viewpoint on hard to document events, from courtrooms where cameras are banned, to personal experiences such as travel that are difficult to sum up in one image. And to convey mood of a piece.

Graham Dean

Franziska Neubert

Jake and Dinos Chapman: reinterpretation and reworking of Goya and other contentious issues.

Frank McMahon

Sally Pring