Punch cover, March, 3, 1849
From Deborah Solomon’s review of Van Gogh: A Life in today’s NY Times:
For inspiration, [Van Gogh] turned to weekly British magazines like The Graphic and Punch and cut out affecting illustrations, scenes attesting to poverty and illness. He eventually amassed thousands of images and saved them in portfolios that were among his most cherished possessions. Although Naifeh and Smith deride his taste for social realists like Jean-François Millet and “the sentimental, cliché-driven world” of popular prints, van Gogh had an admirably daring eye. He found the line separating high and low culture entirely phony, and preferred to divide the world’s images into those that move you and those that merely pretend to sophistication. Magazine illustration no doubt played a role in helping him formulate a pictorial style that is singularly direct and accessible.
The evidence accumulates that Modernism was a secret plot to turn Comics into High Art: