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Realism
Realism

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A term that generally refers to the objective visual representation of the subject, with the most emphasis being made on non-idealization. The French Realists worked mainly between 1840 and 1880 and refused to paint the accepted historical and mythological themes of their day; paintings that were specifically designed to portray the ruling class through the idealized poses and cultural motifs of Classical Rome. They chose to portray actual events . This style has it's roots in the Romantic style that preceded it, though this stance was designed to negate those rich leisure -oriented themes and give ac accurate account of a world utterly changed by the Industrial Revolution. The huge influx of people into the cities had brought to point the stark contrast of the ostentatiously wealthy elite and the poverty stricken masses living in the streets. Cities across Europe were overpopulated in the extreme. Within the midst of this human tragedy a new class of nouveau-riche were prospering; the merchants, bankers and industrial tycoons.

The artists, philosophers and intellectuals of day all have in common the horror of what life had become for the ordinary man. In 1848 Marx and Engles published the Communist Manifest; the philosophers Comte, Fourier and Proudhon also published their works in that decade. >From the painters of the style the most recognizable name is Gustav Courbet, who devoutly believed that art should have a real, substantial role in the revolutions of society. For this reason, art must be relevant and real, it must deal with the issues of the present, without glorifying them in any way, without narrowing them down through the personal perspective of the individual artist. Courbet's most famous work- “The Artist's Studio”- is meant to represent the three warring social factions of the times; the old money and power of the ruling class, the new rising power of the industrial wealth and the Common Man, the proletarian workers. Though he failed miserably in his task to present the viewer with the 'unvarnished' truth, still the paintings are inspired by the upheavals of the time and are an honest attempt to showcase the artist's political and social views.

Honore Daumier, another artist of the style, was most known for his satirical political drawings that were published in the 1820's. These cynically presented the absolute monarchy of King Charles X and later King Louie-Phillip as a bad joke gone terribly wrong, until 1832 when the artist was predictably arrested for sedition against the crown. He also published heart-rending images of the filthy, pathetic existence of the Industrial Revolution's real victims; the huddled families sharing a single room in dense filth and darkness, the thin children lining the street corners in the rags.



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 A Picture of Britain Online Gallery 
 artgallery.co.uk , Surrey, UKOnline Gallery 
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 Studio 68 - Section 6 Online Gallery 


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