|"This year, Venuses again...Always Venuses!", |
1864, Honore Daumier
How then did the French Realists define Realism? Well, certainly it was a painting style, a naturalism, unadorned by decoration or obvious idealization. But then realism or naturalism of this kind had, to one degree or another, been around for centuries. What made French Realism revolutionary was it's sojourn into contemporary subject matter and specifically it's political bent toward socialism and the plight of the laboring 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 a not-so-subtle use of art for propaganda purposes.
|The Gleaners, 1857, Jean-Francois Millet|