The Graphic’s ‘Heads of the People’ (1875-1883): Further Influences and Legacies

Shaw, Samuel (2021). The Graphic’s ‘Heads of the People’ (1875-1883): Further Influences and Legacies. The Burlington Magazine, 163(1420) pp. 516–523.


Although Van Gogh’s enthusiasm for this series has been analysed in some detail, the background of the Graphic’s ‘Heads of the People’ (published between 1875 and 1885) has only been lightly sketched to date. No attention, for instance, has been given to an important precedent for the series: Kenny Meadows’s Heads of the People, a two-volume book published in the early 1840s. Likewise, the legacy of the Graphic’s ‘Heads’ has not been extended beyond Van Gogh. In this article, I offer some thoughts on both issues, placing this distinctive series of engravings in a context wider than that of Van Gogh’s admittedly significant appreciation, drawing in artists such as Walter Sickert and William Rothenstein, and suggesting paths for further research.

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