A-Level: 19th-century painting of working life

videos + essays

Ford Madox Brown, <em>Work</em>
Ford Madox Brown, Work

Muscles, morals, and mongrels help to illustrate the stratification of social class in Victorian England.

Édouard Manet, <em>A Bar at the Folies-Bergère</em>
Édouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

Manet turns the tables—or in this case, the bar—on how we view painting.

Jean-François Millet, <em>L’Angélus</em>
Jean-François Millet, L’Angélus

This sentimental scene of a quiet moment of prayer in the fields reflects a nostalgia for religion in modern France.

Rosa Bonheur, <em>Plowing in the Nivernais</em> (or <em>The First Dressing</em>)
Rosa Bonheur, Plowing in the Nivernais (or The First Dressing)

Rosa Bonheur defies the patriarchy, one masterfully painted ox at a time.

Jean-François Millet, <em>The Gleaners</em>
Jean-François Millet, The Gleaners

Soft and lovely though it may be, this image struck fear in the hearts of urban elites when it was first exhibited.

Gustave Courbet, <em>The Stonebreakers</em>
Gustave Courbet, The Stonebreakers

Courbet chooses the real over the ideal in this harsh look at the labor that built the modern world.