REALISM : Artists Painting Objective Reality

During the fist quarter of nineteenth century France was undergoing hectic changes in every sector. The successful revolution had initiated social demand for the reforms on one hand, and on another the democracy had injected newer and fresher desires in the veins of the people.

Madame Pierre Gautreau, 1884, - byJohn Sargent Oil on Canvas, Manhattan: Metropolitan Museum.

The field of art could not remain untouched by this re formative blow of the air, as people wanted from the artists, too, to deliver something touching the common people and their expectations. Realism was the natural outcome.

The term realism is referred in diverse meanings in history of art. But in general terms it refers to the period and movement of art of painting during which the artists wanted to paint objects as real as possible. While painting in the style of realism, an artist desires to share the visual space with the viewers. He would also crave to communicate the concept of the space as he or she has seen. In wider meaning it is like an attempt to recreate the same physical appearance on a canvas.

This is portrait of Virginie Ammelie Avegno Gautreau She was known in Paris for two things: her extraordinary beauty and her rumored infidelity. John Sargent had painted her beauty. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The artists painting under the style of realism initially were from France. The period was mid-nineteenth century. During this period the field of art of painting was under a gripping spell of romanticism style of painting. Under Romantic Movement, the artists depicted strong emotions, as they believed that the emotion was the real source of aesthetic experience. So those artists assigned a main role to the emotions. It dominated the theme in their paintings. The style known as realism was an outcry against it. The realist artists would paint the objects as near as real, as they would see the figures and the objects through their physical eyes.

The Realism in Art

Visual arts are the play of aesthetics. So the aesthetics showing that would promote only the depiction of accurate visuals of objects before the eyes of viewers would be called a realist piece of art. The realistic artists would not involve themselves into imaginative idealization. He or she would limit the observation of objects in respect of their outward appearances only.
These realists would not miss infusing a message in painting, too. Coupled with an honest depiction of the scene before their eyes, they would try injecting a message for the viewers. Such an art of messaging would demand much intellect from the artists, too. They need equipping themselves to understand how to choose subjects which would help the communication of reality of moment. The artists like John Singer Sargent and Edward Manet were good at painting such reality. Landscape painters like Caspar David Friedrich would unfailingly inject a message in his paintings.

Other Paintings by Realist Artists

The group of the artists who painted under the style of realism includes the master painters like, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, and Andrew Wyeth.

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) was a painter of Romantic landscapes. But he had not missed painting the reality of the nature. He painted the mountains and rivers of Germany with oil colours and allegory, as the allegory was his second language. His paintings depicted the various moods of nature; the night skies with subdued colours, the morning mist with bright colours, and sometimes the tree without leaves and ruined building creating the dramatic and allegorical effect in his landscapes.

In many of his paintings Friedrich tried sending messages, showing the insignificance of humans buy putting a human figure before the vast and powerful natural forces like high mountains or deep valley of mass volume of water.

the painter of photo-realisitc approach of painting, had created an idealised world. He put life into the concepts of goddesses, nymphs, bathers, shepherdesses, and madonnas by painting these characters on his canvases. His artistic insistance for the perfection in painting the contours of female body had generated a good clientele in the wealthy people of nineteenth century France. Bouguereau’s commitment to creations of realistic paintings had appealed his patrons.
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