a history of western art

from the renaissance to the present

Millet, The Gleaners, French Realism, 1857

How is the subject and overall intent of this work a perfect example of French Realism? Although the work looks documentary, how does Millet use the work as a form of social criticism?


Daumier, Rue Transnonain, French Realism, 1834

What is the story of the Rue Transnonain, and how is it a perfect subject for Realism? Although the work looks documentary, how does Daumier demonstrate the innocence of the family, and the unjustness of their deaths? What was Daumier’s attitude towards the French government?


Courbet, The Stone-breakers, French Realism, 1849

How is the subject and overall intent of this work a perfect example of French Realism? Although the work looks documentary, how does Courbet use the work as a form of social criticism?


Romanticism and Realism


people, terms, and concepts: expression, idealization, painterly, expressive use of color, pathetic fallacy, contemporary, middle classes (bourgeoisie), working classes (proletariat), social criticism

Here we explore two early-nineteenth century styles / movements that both rejected Classicism, but for very different reasons.


          What is the main difference in intent or purpose between Neo-classicism and Romanticism? What kinds of subjects to Romantic artists choose? How do Romantic artists enhance the expressive intensity of their works through form/style, such as color, light, composition, etc.?

          What is Romantic idea of the artist? How is that idea still considered stereotypical of artists today?

          What are the main differences between Neo-classicism and Realism? What kind of subject-matter and form do Realists tend to choose? What were the Realists' attitude toward history-painting and idealization?

•  How is the relationship between the Realist artist and the government different from the relationship between the Neo-classicist and the government?

•  Be able to recognize an obvious example of Romanticism and/or Realism, and analyze the work (form and subject matter) to explain how you knew.

Turner, The Slave Ship, English Romanticism, 1840

What is the story of the Slave Ship, and how is it a perfect subject for Romanticism? How does Turner use form to enhance the expressive intensity of the subject? What lesson is the work conveying, and how does Turner invoke sublime nature to help intensify that lesson?


Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, French Romanticism, 1818-19

What is the story of the Raft, and how is it a perfect subject for Romanticism? How does Géricault use form to enhance the expressive intensity of that subject? How could the painting be seen as implicit social criticism?


Goya, The Third of May, 1808, Spanish Romanticism, 1814-15

What is the story/subject of this work, and how does Goya use form/style to make it powerfully expressive?

How is this work different from Neo-classicism in terms of its subject, its style, and attitude toward the State/government?