Essay on The Shift from Realism to Impressionism

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Both Realism and Impressionism began in France with both art periods lending to the world unique techniques, aesthetic approaches and subjects in painting. While Impressionism stemmed from Realism, it can be argued Impressionism ultimately lead to continued individual expression in art through out the historical art periods to follow.

The art period of Realism from 1845 to 1900, has roots which trail back to mid 1800s France and developed as a reaction to the often exaggerated emotionalism of the former art period of Romanticism. Realist artists instead strove to depict the seriousness of every day life. To show subjects or scenes just as they were without involvement of religion, mythology or history. McDowall (1918) pointed “At
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411).

In painting, characteristics of Realism revolved around the idea of making subjects or scenes look real. Subjects were ordinary people, often working middle class or the lower class. Scenes were often gritty depicting poverty or hardships. Color included hues in the natural color range. Close attention was paid to proportions, perspective and accuracy. The overall tone was natural and void of embellishment. Trompe l’oeil technique was used to create an illusion that the objects depicted actually exist. Realist painters strove towards objectivity trying to paint reality as cleanly as possible. The Gleaners, 1857 is an oil on canvas painted by Jean Francois Millet, and is an example of a realist style painting, depicting three lower class, rural females bent over in a field gathering harvest left overs.
The art period of Impressionism, which flourished in France from the late 1860s to the 1880s, is often considered a by product of Realism. Impressionist artists broke away from traditional art techniques, subjects and composition, creating their own unique style. In contrast to Realism, Impressionist painters favored the overall effect of painting, over details when capturing a given moment. Impressionist artists focused on the visual effects of transient light and color. Unlike other artists of their time, Impressionists often painted outdoors in order to show the effect of color and light at given times of the day.

Like Realism, a

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