Europe: 19th century

Realism

As people moved to the cities in search of work, the countryside took on new meaning.

c. 1840 - 1900

Beginner's guide

The Industrial Revolution fundamentally changed the way people lived and interacted.

videos + essays

The angels and ancient gods of academic art gave way real people doing real things in the real world.

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.

Gustave Courbet, <em>A Burial at Ornans</em>
Gustave Courbet, A Burial at Ornans

They wanted an epic Biblical image, or one from a Greek myth. He gave them a painting of a modern-day funeral.

Édouard Manet, <em>Olympia</em>
Édouard Manet, Olympia

Manet decided to replace the idealized female nude with the image of a known prostitute. It didn’t go so well.

Édouard Manet, <em>Plum Brandy</em>
Édouard Manet, Plum Brandy

The subject of this painting is breaking almost as many taboos as the artist who painted it.

Édouard Manet, <em>In the Conservatory</em>
Édouard Manet, In the Conservatory

The greenery surrounding this couple is lush and exotic, but it’s clear that there’s trouble in paradise.

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>Sheep in the Highlands</em>
Rosa Bonheur, Sheep in the Highlands

Before the artist could paint this pastoral scene, she had to petition the government… for the right to wear pants.

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.

Édouard Manet, <em>Corner of a Café-Concert</em>
Édouard Manet, Corner of a Café-Concert

A waitress masters the modern art of multitasking in this lively, bustling bar scene.

Édouard Manet, <em>Émile Zola</em>
Édouard Manet, Émile Zola

This enigmatic portrait of a celebrated writer and critic does not provide the information we expect from it.

Édouard Manet, <em>Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass)</em>
Édouard Manet, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass)

Realism’s original bad boy put a naked woman in a picnic scene, and the critics were not happy about it.

Édouard Manet, <em>The Balcony</em>
Édouard Manet, The Balcony

This work celebrates the leisurely lifestyle of the urban bourgeoisie, but it also shows its more somber aspects.

Selected Contributors | Realism