The Graphic was founded in December 1869 by William Luson Thomas, who had previously worked as a master wood engraver at The Illustrated London News. Thomas wanted to produce a weekly pictorial paper to rival the ILN and had ambitions to engage the services of some of the finest artists for his new paper. Thus The Graphic could boast John Millais, Lawrence Alma Tadema and Luke Fildes among the distinguished roster of contributors in the 19th century. Thomas Hardy was one of the great writers to contribute stories.
This tradition continued during the Great War when Graphic artists travelled throughout Europe to send back sketches of events for readers at home under the direction of editor J. M. Bulloch. They included Van Anroy in Belgium, Hoynck in Holland and Gilbert Holiday, Georges Scott and Paul Renouard in France. M. J. Wladimiroff, who sent back pictures from his time spent with the Russian army, attracted the attention of the Tsar and Tsarina, who bought several of his sketches when they were displayed at an exhibition in Petrograd.
War correspondents included Philip Gibbs in France and Robert Scotland Lidell in Russia. The Graphic’s offices in the Rue Lafayette in Paris left it ideally placed to send back these despatches from close to the seat of war.
One of the magazine’s most famous pictures was The Great Sacrifice by James Clark, originally published in its 1914 Christmas number. Depicting a dead soldier on a battlefield with an ethereal image of Christ on the cross shining down on him, it was one of the most popular images of the war. Stephen Paget observed in The Cornhill Magazine that this Graphic cover “has turned railway bookstalls into wayside shrines; the one and only picture of the war, up to now, which says what most needs to be said on canvas”.