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The Golden Age of Russian Impressionism




Art Fortune | Realism


Realism refers to a style of art during the 19th century most dominantly among French painters, in which they strived to depict their subject as realistically as possible. The goal of Realism was truth and accuracy; they denounced emotionalism, romanticized subjects, and anything shown exaggerated. The subject matter of their painting was often of everyday characters, situations, and objects. They were the first to show the everyday class of society, though most of those paintings were not well received at the time. They were against the idealization of objects that was relevant in the Neoclassicism movement and Romanticism.


Realism began shortly after the invention of photography, and satisfied the growing need to show things the way they are. The paintings of Realist were meant to be non-subjective and show the humble simplistic reality of the middle and lower classes. Gustave Courbet led the Realist movement through his use of realistic and sometimes vulgar paintings that often commented on social issues. “A Burial of Ornans” caused him the most critical acclaim, which shows the funeral of an ordinary citizen of the village.  The composition and style of the painting is much like the classical styles that were relevant in the 19th century, however the subject matter of an unimportant commoner was unheard of at the time.  The dignity and humbleness was also exemplified in his other famous work “The Stone Breakers.” He hoped through his realistic depiction of the world to show the importance and validity of the ordinary life, something that most everyone could relate to. Another Realist was Edoudard Manet, he captured the effect of photography in many of paintings but especially with “Olympia”, which was painted as if it was in a studio. He later adapted his style to become a key component of impressionism.


Realism was meant to bring out the truth in society. Its aim was to emphasis the ugliness and realness of the everyday. It wanted art to stop lying about the unattainable perfection of the world. Not everyone was rich, beautiful, and desirable. Realism was about forcing society to face reality not just in art, but in the social structures established by the upper class. It was successful as it led artists into a new wave of styles such as impressionism

Artists Discussed-

Gustave Courbet was a Realist painter who focused on depicting the common people to raise awareness of the dignity and strength in every individual.


"I am fifty years old and I have always lived in freedom; let me end my life free; when I am dead let this be said of me: 'He belonged to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty."

- Gustave Courbet.


Edoudard Manet was a late Realist painter who adapted the style of photography and later went on to influence Impressionism.




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