Realism and Impressionism (from Chapter 25)
Realism - the Realists rejected both the Classical depiction
of the Ideal and the Romantic fascination with extremes and the "dark side"
of humanity. They wished to promote in their place "the accurate and apparently
objective description of the ordinary, observable world."
- Ordinary people, surroundings, and events were a primary focus.
- "What made French Realism revolutionary was its sojourn into contemporary
subject matter and specifically its political bent toward socialism and the
plight of the labouring masses. Realism was thus a handmaiden for the socialist
political activists of the time attempting to shake up the bourgeoisie (middle
classes) in order to spearhead social changes leading to an idealistic "golden
age of humanity". It was subtle use of art for propaganda purposes."
- the Barbizon School (1840s - 1850s)
- a group of French landscape artists who settled near the village of
Barbizon in the Forest of Fonteblau.
- They attempted to paint nature directly, concerned with portraying
- The Barbizon painters helped establish landscape and the motif of country
life as vital subjects for French artists.
- The Gleaners (1857, p. 435) by Jean-François Millet.
- Others in the Realist tradition did not seek to escape the "realities"
of political and social unrest, not did they necessarily accept the "nobility"
of the peasantry.
- Known as a caricaturist, Daumier produced over 4,000 lithographs
"satirizing the major and minor foibles of the day.
- "One must be of one's own time."
Class Carriage (ca. 1862, p. 436), Daumier uses chiaroscuro to
highlight the lonliness and anonymity of of riders in the carriage.
- With pragmatism and "realism" a way of life in America, the
Realist Movement was popular. One painter was Winslow Homer.
- For more information, see Defining
Realism on the Humanities Web and Realism
Impressionism - "In one respect Impressionism
was an outgrowth of realism, but in another it was a revolutionary artistic
movement almost as profound in its effect as the Early Renaissance in Italy."
- The Impressionists had "almost scientific interest in the actual visual
experience and effect of light and movement on appearance of objects."
- Three key concepts in Impressionistm:
- a quickly painted oil sketch most accurately records a landscape's general
- art "benefits from a naïve vision untainted by intellectual
- Objects/subjects were viewed primarily in terms of how they reflected
or appreared in light.
- "When considered with reference to Monet's life and work, the concepts
applied in interpreting Impressionist art - in particular, those of the
impression, the stroke, the contrast of colors, and the consistency with
which the consequences of the Impressionist ideas visible at the beginning
of an artist's career are elaborated in the long course of that individual
career - make Monet's position central."
- "By his fellow painters Monet was regarded as a leader, not because
he was the most intellectual or theoretically minded or because he was
able to answer questions that they could not answer, but because in his
art he seemed to be more alert to the possibilities latent in their common
ideas, which he then developed in his work in a more radical way than
did the others."
- " Considering how all these painters developed their intensely
personal manners with respect to the new artistic ideas, we may observe
that the new elements appeared most often for the first time in the work
of Monet and then were taken over by the other Impressionists, who incorporated
them as suggestions or as definite means and applied them in their own
- Monet felt that nature knows no black or white and nature knows no line.
- At first Monet called this painting of Le Havre at Dawn "Marina;"
Renoir asked for a clearer title to list in in the catalog for an
1874 exhibition, to which Monet replied, "Then put : 'Impression,
- The painting received considerable criticism, some of which included
the description "Impressionist."
- a description of several Monet works from Giverny.org
da Vinci to Monet: Understanding how artists can manipulate the human
- Vincent van Gogh
- "As for me, I am rather often uneasy in my mind, because I think
that my life has not been calm enough; all those bitter disappointments,
adversities, changes keep me from developing fully and naturally in my
artistic career." Vincent van Gogh June 16, 1889
- In 1869 Vincent van Gogh joined the firm Goupil & Cie., a firm of
art dealers in The Hague. He stayed with the firm for seven years; he
was successful for the earlier part of that time, but he became increasingly
less interested in art works that did not suit his personal taste. He
taught for a time, and he was interested in becoming a minister, but his
sermons were somewhat lackluster and lifeless and he failed to qualify
for admission to school.
- Van Gogh began studies in art, depending on his brother for economic
support (he would sell only one painting during his life).
Night (1889, p. 448) - information from Vincent
- the paintings
- Starry Night is probably Vincent van Gogh's most famous painting.
Instantly recognizable because of its unique style, this work has
been the subject of poetry, fiction, and the well known song "Vincent"
or "Starry, Starry Night" by Don McLean.
- Starry Night was painted while Vincent was in the asylum at Saint-Rémy
and his behaviour was very erratic at the time, due to the severity
of his attacks. Unlike most of Van Gogh's works, Starry Night was
painted from memory and not outdoors as was Vincent's preference.
This may, in part, explain why the emotional impact of the work is
so much more powerful than many of Van Gogh's other works from the
- Some people have speculated about the eleven stars in the painting.
While it's true that Vincent didn't have the same religious fervour
in 1889, when he painted the work, as he did in his earlier years,
there is a possibility that the story of Joseph in the Old Testament
may have had an influence on the composition of the work.
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