Realism was a movement from the 1840’s to the 1880’s that
originated in France. It rejected traditional forms of art, literature, and
social organization. Realism is often seen as the first modern art movement. Realism
focused on the beauty of everyday life (Campbell). It is considered
the beginning of modern art for seeing these beauties as art. Main artists of
the realism movement include Jean-Francois Millet, Gustave Courbet, and James
Whistler.

Jean-Francois Millet is a renowned artist of the realism
movement. He was the oldest son of a family that came from a peasant community.
He grew up in the village of Gruchy in Normandy. He was sent to Cherbourg to
study with a painter that goes by the name of Paul Dumochel in 1833. He started
his career in Cherbourg after his first painting was accepted at the Salon of
1840. He moved to Paris with his newlywed wife, Pauline-Virgine Ono, but soon
moved back to Cherbourg due to his wife’s death and rejections at the Salon of
1843. He remarried to Catherine Lemaire in 1853 after they moved to Le Havre
together in 1845. According to his biography on jeanmillet.org, in Paris in the
middle of the 180’s he befriended many artists that were associated with the
Barbizon school. (jeanmillet.org) “Gleaner” is a very
famous painting of Millet’s (Unknown). It showed the way
that many people had to live back in that time.

Gustave Courbet was another well-known artist from the
realism movement. He painted The
Stonebreakers and A Burial at
Ornans in his home village of Ornans. Ornans is found in the
France-Comte region of France. His painting Young
Women from the Village created trouble in the Salon of 1852 (Galitz). Critics were going
to reproach Courbet for making the women “ugly” and the cattle were “proportionally
too small” (Galitz). Critics were all
over him on the connotative diction he used to describe his paintings. Courbet
loved to hunt. He was successful in depicting hunting scenes. Some of his
hunting paintings were the first paintings he displayed at the Salon of 1852. 

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