These guys all worked in the late 1800's, so they're pretty bunched up as far as chronology:

Gustave Courbet (painter)
Edouard Manet (painter)
Claude Monet (painter)
Camille Pissarro (painter)
Auguste Renoir (painter)
Edgar Degas (painter/sculptor)
Berthe Morisot (painter)
Mary Cassat (painter)
Ford Maddox Brown (painter)
William Holman Hunt (painter)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (painter)
Edward Burne-Jones (painter)
James Abbot McNeill Whistler (painter)
George Inness (painter)
Winslow Homer (painter)
Thomas Eakins (painter)
Henry O. Tanner (painter)
Auguste Rodin (sculptor)
Camille Claudel (sculptor)
Henri Labrouste (architect)
Sir Joseph Paxton (architect)
John and Washington Roebling (architects)
Gustave Eiffel (architect)

source: History of Art by H.W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson

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Realism in the Nineteenth Century

Realism in the first half of this century, particularly in the art of John Constable focused of realistc images mechanically reproduced by the camera. Realism varies in many degrees of focus actually, and has been an ingredient in Western art for centuries. Nineteenth century realism can be described both technically and iconographically. Technically, realism deals with the reproduction of the optical field created by matching its color tones on the flat surface, regardless as to whether the object could have been seen by the artist. Iconographically, Realism in the Nineteenth Century can be defined as the subject matter of everyday life, contemporary, as seen or seeable by the artist, possibly recorded by the photograph or other modes of visible report.

In art and literature the Realist position was supported by scientific and technological achievements of the Nineteeth century. With assertations that only scientifically verified fact was real and that the scientific method was the sole legitimate means of gaining knowledge. Religion, revelation, imagination, and intuition were fictional productions.

Many Realists, primarily Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet recorded their life and their times in factual images even though their styles have little in common. Indeed a dialogue between Romanticism and Realism went on throughout the century. Romantic subject matter and aribitrary formal experiment persisted, and by the end of the century seemed to carry the day for pure artistic subjectivity.

The realism of Manet (leading to the realism of the Impressionists), reveals the striking paradox in Realism. To put on canvas the entire optical field, artists must paint it just as it appears to them. Only by working swiftly in sketchlike execution could they accurately record their instantaneous impressions, blurring the field, emphasizing the brush stroke and the blot of color, functioning as their more scientific counterparts would say, like an individual sensation of the artists private world.


After the mid-1860's, Impressionist painters endeavored to follow Édouard Manet's example in portraying scenes of middle-class comtemporary landscapes and life in Paris. Their wish for a more modern expression was to them a premium in the immediate moment of the visual impression and convinced the landscapists, in particular Claude Monet to work out of doors. From this tradition of painting directly from nature came the instantaneous presentment of climate and atmosphere so distinctive of Impressionist painting. The refusal of idealistic interpretation and literary anecdote was paralled by an extreme examination of light and color. Scientific studies of light and the invention of chemical pigments became a springboard of interest among artists in determining the ways colors of nature were interpretated giving artist new colors to work with.* During the Impressionist exhibitions (eight in all were given between 1874 and 1886) irritated the public. In reality though Impressionist technique was much less radical than it seemed at the time. For the most part these artists were simply developing the color theories of Leonardo and the actual implementation of Peter Paul Rubens, Delacroix, Constable, and Turner.

"Impressionism, ....... a major movement, first in painting and later in music, that developed chiefly in France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Impressionist painting comprises the work produced between about 1867 and 1886 by a group of artists who shared a set of related approaches and techniques. The most conspicuous characteristic of Impressionism was an attempt to accurately and objectively record visual reality in terms of transient effects of light and colour. The principal Impressionist painters were Claude Monet , Pierre Auguste Renoir , Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot , Armand Guillaumin, and Frédéric Bazille, who worked together, influenced each other, and exhibited together independently. Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne also painted in an Impressionist style for a time in the early 1870s. The established painter Édouard Manet , whose work in the 1860s greatly influenced Monet and others of the group, himself adopted the Impressionist approach about 1873."

The Impressionists endeavored to create the illusion of forms washed in atmosphere and light. Local color was revealed with this intensive study of outdoor light as the source of color to be experienced and as a result it was realized that the actual color of an object is most likely modified by the quality of light in which it is seen, by the effects of juxtaposed colors, and by reflections from other objects. Shadows no longer are simply grey or black as earlier painters thought, but are now composed of colors, reflections modify them or conditions which exist in the envioronment.(Jan Vermeer, an earlier artist apparently noticed this effect). If complemantary colors in painting are placed side by side in large enough areas, they intensify one another, unlike the effect of mixing small amounts of pigments, which blend into neutral tones. In addition when pigments are placed this way on a canvas for the eye to fuse at a distance makes for a more intense hue as compare to mixing these same colors on a palette. However, it is not the case that the Impressionists used striclty primary colors, juxtaposing them to create secondary colors (blue and yellow for example, to produce green), the did achieve wonderfully brilliant effects with their distinguishing choppy, short brush strokes, which so precisely depicted the vibrating quality of light. The fact that their canvases looked so unintelligible at close range and the forms and objects appeared only when the eye fuses at certain distances explains much of the first criticisms aimed at their work, such as the conjecture that the Impressionists fired their paint at the canvases with pistols.

The Realism of Gustave Courbet and his followers had barely begun one trend in realism when Impressionism led off in a different direction entirely. Édouard Manetshifted modern painting into a new phase becoming the point of departure from Realism to Impressionism. Each work became represenataive of the artists private world, the Realist artists discovered that the external reality they strived for was really determined by their own unescapable subjectivity.
*Special luminance was achieved by using new colors like viridian green and cobalt violet (both invented in 1859) and cerulean blue (invented in 1859). The pigments, applied with newly available flat-bound brushes, often were placed on canvases covered with a base of white pigment (white ground), instead of the green or brown tones preferred by earlier artisits.

Realism and Impressionism Artists

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John Constable (1776-1837)

Gustave Courbet(1819-1877)

* A Burial at Ornans

Édouard Manet (1832-1883)

* Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe

Claude Monet (1840-1926)

* Rouen Cathedral

Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

* Le Moulin de la Galette

Edgar Degas (1843-1917)

* L'absinth

Mary Cassatt (1845-1926)

Selected References

De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.
Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Impressionism :

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