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Home > Art by Era > 19th Century Art > Realism Art

Realism Art

When most people think of art, they think of Realism. This art style was developed during the 19th century and was an important turning point in art history. Rather than depicting humans as mythological beings or adding supernatural or exotic themes to their work, Realists focused on the realistic depiction of everyday life with common people. The Realists concern with drawing things as accurately as possible from observation was a revolutionary idea at the time, particularly the idea of unembellished human bodies which were almost unheard of during the times of Romanticism.

Realism Paintings

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A Bar at the Folies-Bergere
by Edouard Manet
27" x 22"
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Grandma and Me
by Gregory Myrick
16" x 20"
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Lily of the Valley Spa
by Danhui Nai
10" x 10"
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Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze
by Unknown
24" x 18"
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Sunset Beach
by Daniel Pollera
37" x 25"
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At The Helm
by Danny Hahlbohm
18" x 14"
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White Flower Spa
by Danhui Nai
10" x 10"
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Rejoice!
by Monica Stewart
35" x 26"
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Italian Feast
by Loran Speck
30" x 24"
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Freesia Spa
by Danhui Nai
10" x 10"
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Hatbox Tulips
by Danhui Nai
12" x 12"
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Time Well Spent
by Henry Lee Battle
36" x 24"
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Forever Faithful
by John Rossini
16" x 12"
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Lilacs and Chickadees
by William Vanderdasson
16" x 20"
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Chamomile Spa
by Danhui Nai
10" x 10"
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He's Mine
by Laurie Cooper
17" x 14"
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Tulips in Aubergine Hatbox
by Danhui Nai
16" x 16"
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Playing Around
by John Rossini
12" x 12"
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Watching The Horizon
by Lucie Bilodeau
24" x 20"
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Christina's World
by Andrew Wyeth
14" x 11"
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Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, MMA-NYC, 1851
by Unknown
24" x 18"
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White Geraniums
by Danhui Nai
36" x 25"
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Hatbox Freesia
by Danhui Nai
12" x 12"
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The Virgin with Angels, 1900
by William Adolphe Bouguereau
18" x 24"
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Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane Heinrich Hoffmann (1824-1911 German)
by Unknown
18" x 24"
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Gentle Reader
by Karen Hollingsworth
36" x 26"
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The Bulls and Bears in the Market
by William Holbrook Beard
36" x 27"
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Hummingbirds and Trumpet Flowers
by William Vanderdasson
20" x 14"
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Jammin' at the Savoy
by Romare Bearden
32" x 24"
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Portrait of George Washington
by Unknown
18" x 24"
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Snowy Owl
by William Vanderdasson
16" x 22"
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Waiting for Spring
by John Rossini
12" x 12"
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Banjo Lesson
by Henry Ossawa Tanner
8" x 10"
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Olio Italia
by Janet Stever
17" x 21"
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The Peacemakers 1868
by Unknown
24" x 18"
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Although several of these artists took from the techniques of past artists, these realism framed paintings were one of the first truly representational styles that were treated as a style of its own, without the stylization and 'high art' mentality of the time period. Artists like Manet and Courbet spearheaded this revolutionary artistic style with their highly different works.

Gustave Courbet was the first self-styled Realist, whose work didn't have the ornate decisiveness of traditional 'realistic detail' but focused on the accurate depictions in his work to speak for him. His most famous painting, 'The Burial at Ornans' was highly unique in that models weren't used to 'act out' the event. Instead, he drew from his observation of the actual event and depicted the actual people who were gathered to mourn the deceased.

Edouard Manet was an equally important artist when it came to the Realism movement, and also the Impressionist movement that came after. His first Realism work was 'The Luncheon on the Grass', which had a sketchy quality that distinguished his work from Courbet's. However, what made his representational style so popular was his focus on classical composition and using blocks of color in order to develop his paintings. As he grew in skill, he developed 'The Railway' and 'A Bar at the Folies-Bergere' which were deemed Realist masterpieces of the time.

Modern artists have since developed this style to represent nearly every subject imaginable and to embody themes from religious inspiration to historical events.

Social Realism

Social Realism was an American art movement in the United States which became particularly important during the Great Depression in the late 1920's and early 1930's and lasted until the 1960's. Defining what exactly Social Realism is can be difficult however, because of its close relations to the Regionalism and American Scene Painting which were developed around the same time.

Social Realism is vaguely related to the Realism movement that began with Gustave Courbet, because of the realistic depiction of working class and urban poor who was popular in this category. However, unlike the Realists of Europe, most Social Realists had a message of political or social unrest or criticism. Also, many artists like Chris Consani, chose to address the socioeconomic status of the wealthy as decadent and unaware of the trials facing the poor citizens during that time.

Framed Social Realism Art is also closely related to Regionalism due to the emergence of Ashcan School painters, who chose to depict the grittiness of city life. However, the difference between Social Realism and Regionalism lies in the fact that Regionalism was more concerned with the rural community while Social Realism was concerned with the urban areas of America. The Ashcan painters included such famous artists as Robert Henri, George Bellows, and John Slone.

One of the most important things about the Social Realism movement is that it brought artists attention back to American styles of painting. Before the Great Depression, artists typically went overseas to England and France in order to study painting. However, Social Realism and Regionalism changed that, and brought the focus on staying in America and painting purely American subjects with American techniques.

Modern depictions of this art category still contain social or political messages; however, these paintings are typically depictions of common, daily moments in the life of middle to low class citizens, rather than a criticism of the established order. These works include paintings such as Norman Rockwell's 'Tattooist' and works by artists such as Steven Johnson, whose work embraces the stylized depiction of jazz lifestyles.
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