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The grisliest images are the earliest: Bearing Witness? Violence and Trauma on Paper, at the Fitzwilliam Museum, reviewed

18 January 2023

10:00 PM

18 January 2023

10:00 PM

Bearing Witness? Violence and Trauma on Paper

Fitzwilliam Museum, until 2 April

Paint Like the Swallow Sings Calypso

Kettle’s Yard, until 19 February

‘Graphic’ scenes of violence are now associated with film, but the word betrays an older ancestry. The first mass media images to shock the public were engravings documenting contemporary social ills pioneered by the Victorian magazine The Graphic, though the association goes a long way further back, to Jacques Callot’s etching series ‘Miseries of War’ (1633) recording atrocities perpetrated by both sides during the French invasion of his native Lorraine in the Thirty Years’ War.

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