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Art History Essay- Social Realism in the 19th century

            "Millet, Daumier and Courbet were politically motivated and set about attacking social order through their art- .
             Discuss this statement in reference to at least one work by each artist mentioned in this statement.
             Realism is an approach to art in which subjects are portrayed in as straightforward manner as possible, without idealizing them and without following the rules of formal theory. Realism began as an artistic movement in the 18th Century in Europe and America. It was a revolt against the conventions of the classic view of art which suggested that life was more rational and orderly that it really is. It was also a revolt against the romantic traditions in art which suggested that life was more emotionally satisfying than it really is. Realism tries to portray life as objectively as possible. Realism was a broad spectrum movement involving painting, literature, drama in several European countries. Some of the leading French realist painters were Millet, Courbet and Daumier. Realist artists disapproved of fictional and traditional subjects and believed that the only true subject matter for artworks had to be found in reality. The artists aimed to represent their subject as realistically as possible, particularly in terms of form and colour. Many aspects of society at the time affected art such as the industrial revolution. The revolution meant that more peasants left the country to go to the big cities, which in turn became over crowded. There was vast poverty, pollution and inequality and these conditions were shown through the art of the Realists.
             Honoré Daumier was politically and artistically active at a time when France was going through great social and political upheaval. He and his contemporaries used lithography as a weapon to attack the monarchy of Louis Philippe. He intended to reveal corruption in society through his political cartoons and also his paintings. In many of his works he criticises complacent judges, corruption of the legal system and the repression of personal liberty by the government.

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