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History of Art - Realism.

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History of Art Realism Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) and Jean-Fran´┐Żois Millet (1814-75) were the catalysts to the explosion of Realism. They were in favour of the working classes and the portrayal of the 'real' everyday life. They wanted to shock the bourgeois by their direct style and outrage respectable artists. They were both political anarchists, nobody ever painted the poor people working in the fields; Courbet and Millet glorified the figure and the subject matter in the style of classical history paintings of the Academy. They used in paint in a colourful way trying to emphasise the natural outdoor light of the countryside. Their pictures were strongly modelled to show strong form and shadows. According to the classification of art historians, Courbet is the first great Realist among the painters of the 19th century. Courbet was born in Ornans and was in Paris by 1839, working under a minor painter in the Louvre. ...read more.


"The Stone Breakers" (1849) is a direct image of two labourers, one young and one old, with tools working at the different tasks of the stonemason. Strong chiaroscuro shows the form of the figures and the solid textures of the stones and general landscape. Jean-Fran´┐Żois Millet (1814-75) was a French realist, the peasants he depicted belonged to the class which still accounted for more than half the French population yet had benefited least from the growing mid-century prosperity. He was trained under a local painter at Cherbourg and then in Paris in 1837 under Delaroche. In 1849 he moved to Barbizon and remained there for the rest of his life, living in the most gruelling poverty, painting scenes of the peasants and their labourers as well as ordinary landscapes and marines. "The Man with the Ho" (1852 - 62) ...read more.


"The Gleaners" (1857) presents the everyday occurrences of working women, the process of harvesting was part of the ritual life. There is a traditional composition, foreground, middle ground and back ground which is realistic and adds to the 'realism' of the paintings. Traditional chiaroscuro can be seen, The three gleaners are not elegant or romantic but solid in form and outline, they are modelled firmly against the bright sunlight. In conclusion, Courbet's scenes from everyday life range from the depiction of abject poverty as seen in "The Stone Breakers", social comment which is seen in "The Young Women of the Village" to the representation of a peasant funeral with more than fifty life size figures in "The Burial at Ornans". The main figures in Courbet's paintings were members of the rural bourgeoisie, to which his own family belonged, however, Millet specialised in depicting the rural proletariat, the people who had no possessions. Samantha Johnson ...read more.

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