artist canvas


Realism in art and literature is the depiction of subjects as they appear, without embellishment or interpretation. It was also a mid-19th century cultural movement with its roots in France.

Cultural movement

Realism first appeared in art in the city of Lothal in what is now India, around 2400 BCE. In the visual arts and literature, Realism became more prominent as a cultural movement in France as a reaction to the idealism of Romanticism in the middle of the 19th century in a cultural climate of demands for social and political reform and democracy. Realism dominated the arts in France, England and the United States from around 1840 to 1880.


The realists sought to render everyday characters, situations, dilemmas, and events; all in an "accurate" (or realistic) manner. Realism began as a reaction to romanticism, which treated subjects idealistically. Realists tended to discard theatrical drama and classical forms of art to depict commonplace or 'realistic' themes. The main groups associated with realism are the Realists who depended on scientific facts, and with nature and life around them rather than creating idealistic works of art (romanticism), a group of French landscape artists who emphasized art constructed from nature known as the Barbizon School, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which praised art before Raphael, who lived in a time where art was quite idealized. Trompe l'oeil, a technique which creates the illusion that the objects depicted actually exist, is an extreme example of artistic realism.

Literature and theater

French novelist ?mile Zola and Gustave Flaubert were two leading Realism writers.


Italian Neorealism was a cinematic movement incorporating elements of realism that developed in post-WWII Italy. Notable Neorealists included Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, and Roberto Rossellini.

Notable artists of epoch or period:

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