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Realism Collage

Realism

Started: 1840s

Ended: 1880s

Realism Timeline

Quotes

"So, after the literary schools that wanted to give us a distorted, superhuman, poetic, touching, charming, or proud vision of life, the realist or naturalist school came, which sought to show us the truth, nothing but the truth and the whole truth."
Guy de Maupassant
"Realism aims at an exact, complete and honest reproduction of the social environment, of the age in which the author lives, because such studies are justified by reason, by the demands made by public interest and understanding, and because they are free from falsehood and deception. This reproduction should be as simple as possible so that all may understand it."
Edmond Duranty
"[They] call me 'the socialist painter.' I accept that title with pleasure. I am not only a socialist but a democrat and a Republican as well - in a word, a partisan of all the revolution and above all a Realist...for 'Realist' means a sincere lover of the honest truth."
Gustave Courbet
"Painting is the representation of visible forms. The essence of Realism is its negation of the ideal."
Gustave Courbet
"One must be of one's time and paint what one sees."
Édouard Manet
"It is the treating of the commonplace with the feeling of the sublime that gives to art its true power."
Jean-François Millet
"The big artist keeps an eye on nature and steals her tools."
Thomas Eakins

KEY ARTISTS

Gustave CourbetGustave Courbet
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Jean-François MilletJean-François Millet
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Édouard ManetÉdouard Manet
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James WhistlerJames Whistler
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John Singer SargentJohn Singer Sargent
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Thomas EakinsThomas Eakins
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"It is not a question, here, of searching for an 'absolute' of beauty. The artist is neither painting history nor his soul... And it is because of this that he should neither be judged as a moralist nor as a literary man. He should be judged simply as a painter."

Émile Zola Signature

Synopsis

Though never a coherent group, Realism is recognized as the first modern movement in art, which rejected traditional forms of art, literature, and social organization as outmoded in the wake of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Beginning in France in the 1840s, Realism revolutionized painting, expanding conceptions of what constituted art. Working in a chaotic era marked by revolution and widespread social change, Realist painters replaced the idealistic images and literary conceits of traditional art with real-life events, giving the margins of society similar weight to grand history paintings and allegories. Their choice to bring everyday life into their canvases was an early manifestation of the avant-garde desire to merge art and life, and their rejection of pictorial techniques, like perspective, prefigured the many 20th-century definitions and redefinitions of modernism.

Key Ideas

Realism is broadly considered the beginning of modern art. Literally, this is due to its conviction that everyday life and the modern world were suitable subjects for art. Philosophically, Realism embraced the progressive aims of modernism, seeking new truths through the reexamination and overturning of traditional systems of values and beliefs.
Realism concerned itself with how life was structured socially, economically, politically, and culturally in the mid-19th century. This led to unflinching, sometimes "ugly" portrayals of life's unpleasant moments and the use of dark, earthy palettes that confronted high art's ultimate ideals of beauty.
Realism was the first explicitly anti-institutional, nonconformist art movement. Realist painters took aim at the social mores and values of the bourgeoisie and monarchy upon who patronized the art market. Though they continued submitting works to the Salons of the official Academy of Art, they were not above mounting independent exhibitions to defiantly show their work.
Following the explosion of newspaper printing and mass media in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, Realism brought in a new conception of the artist as self-publicist. Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, and others purposefully courted controversy and used the media to enhance their celebrity in a manner that continues among artists to this day.

Beginnings

Realism Image

Before Realism: History Painting and the Academy

Established in 1648 by Louis XIV, the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture or Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture governed the production of art in France for nearly two centuries. Given France's prominence in European culture during that time, the Academy set standards for art across the continent, providing studio training for young talent and recognizing artistic achievement at its semi-regular Salon exhibitions.

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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