Monday, March 29, 2010

(Social) Realism: France

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796 – 1875)
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (July 17, 1796 – February 22, 1875) was a French landscape painter and printmaker in etching. Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century. He is a pivotal figure in landscape painting and his vast output simultaneously references the Neo-Classical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism.

Honoré Daumier (1808 – 1879)
Honoré Daumier (February 26, 1808 – February 10, 1879) was a French printmaker, caricaturist, painter, and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th century.

Honoré Daumier The Uprising 1860

Jean-François Millet (1814 – 1875)
Jean-François Millet (October 4, 1814 – January 20, 1875) was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France. Millet is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers; he can be categorized as part of the naturalism and realism movements.

Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815 – 1891)
Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (21 February 1815 – 31 January 1891) was a French Classicist painter and sculptor famous for his depictions of Napoleon, his armies and military themes. He documented sieges and manoeuvres and was the teacher of Édouard Detaille.


Marcel Verdier (1817-1856)

Jean Pierre Alexandre Antigna (1817 – 1878)
Jean Pierre Alexandre Antigna (March 7, 1817 – February 26, 1878) was a French painter. Antigna was born in Orléans, France, where his earliest training took place, under a local painter, Francois Salmon. On October 9, 1837, he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was a pupil of Sebastien Norblin de la Gourdaine as well as the renowned Paul Delaroche. Until 1845 his paintings were generally religious scenes and portraits. Yet, after living in the poor quarter of the Île Saint-Louis in Paris he would incorporate images of the suffering and burden of urban poor into his works. By the 1848 Revolution Antigna was devoted to the Realist style, and continued to paint in this manner until c. 1860 when he began to produce paintings in the Naturalist vein.

Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819 – 1877)
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (10 June 1819–31 December 1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. The Realist movement bridged the Romantic movement (characterized by the paintings of Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix), with the Barbizon School and the Impressionists. Courbet occupies an important place in 19th century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social commentary in his work.

Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton (1827 – 1906)
Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton (May 1, 1827 – July 5, 1906) was a 19th century French Realist painter. His paintings are heavily influenced by the French countryside and his absorption of traditional methods of painting helped make Jules Breton one of the primary transmitters of the beauty and idyllic vision of rural existence.

Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883)
Édouard Manet (French pronunciation: [edwaʁ manɛ]), 23 January 1832 – 30 April 1883, was a French painter. One of the first nineteenth century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism.

His early masterworks The Luncheon on the Grass and Olympia engendered great controversy, and served as rallying points for the young painters who would create Impressionism. Today these are considered watershed paintings that mark the genesis of modern art.

Manet's paintings of cafe scenes are observations of social life in nineteenth century Paris. People are depicted drinking beer, listening to music, flirting, reading, or waiting. Many of these paintings were based on sketches executed on the spot. He often visited the Brasserie Reichshoffen on boulevard de Rochechourt, upon which he based At the Cafe in 1878. Several people are at the bar, and one woman confronts the viewer while others wait to be served. Such depictions represent the painted journal of a flâneur. These are painted in a style which is loose, referencing Hals and Velázquez, yet they capture the mood and feeling of Parisian night life. They are painted snapshots of bohemianism, urban working people, as well as some of the bourgeoisie.

Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917)
Edgar Degas (19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917), born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas (French pronunciation: [ilɛʁ ʒɛʁmɛnɛdɡɑʁ dəˈɡɑ]), was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist. A superb draughtsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half his works depict dancers. These display his mastery in the depiction of movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and depiction of human isolation.

By the late 1860s, Degas had shifted from his initial forays into history painting to an original observation of contemporary life. Racecourse scenes provided an opportunity to depict horses and their riders in a modern context. He began to paint women at work, milliners and laundresses. Mlle. Fiocre in the Ballet La Source, exhibited in the Salon of 1868, was his first major work to introduce a subject with which he would become especially identified, dancers.

In many subsequent paintings dancers were shown backstage or in rehearsal, emphasizing their status as professionals doing a job. From 1870 Degas increasingly painted ballet subjects, partly because they sold well and provided him with needed income after his brother's debts had left the family bankrupt. Degas began to paint café life as well. He urged other artists to paint "real life" instead of traditional mythological or historical paintings, and the few literary scenes he painted were modern and of highly ambiguous content.

Alphonse Legros (1837 - 1911)
Alphonse Legros (8 May 1837 - 8 December 1911), painter, etcher and sculptor was born in Dijon. His father was an accountant, and came from the neighbouring village of Véronnes. Young Legros frequently visited the farms of his relatives, and the peasants and landscapes of that part of France are the subjects of many of his pictures and etchings.

Oscar Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)
Claude Monet , born Oscar Claude Monet (14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926) was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. The term Impressionism is derived from the title of his painting Impression, Sunrise (Impression, soleil levant).

Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848 – 1884)
Jules Bastien-Lepage (November 1, 1848 – December 10, 1884), was a French naturalist painter, a style related to the Realist movement. Jules Bastien-Lepage's first teacher was his father, himself an artist. His first formal training was at Verdun, and prompted by a love of art he went to Paris in 1867, where he was admitted to the École des Beaux-arts, working under Cabanel. He was awarded first place for drawing but spent most of his time working alone, only occasionally appearing in class. Nevertheless, he completed three years at the école. In a letter to his parents, he complained that the life model was a man in the pose of a mediaeval lutanist. After exhibiting in the Salons of 1870 and 1872 works which attracted no attention, in 1874 he made his mark with his Song of Spring, a study of rural life, representing a peasant girl sitting on a knoll looking down on a village. His Portrait of my Grandfather, exhibited in the same year, was not less remarkable for its artless simplicity and received a third-class medal.

When the Franco-Prussian war broke out, Bastien fought when men were needed for the troops. Bastien was a man by this time, medium height and stout. After the war, he returned home to paint the villagers. In 1873 he painted his grandfather in the garden, and this painting later became a favorite for many art lovers.

Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894)
Gustave Caillebotte (French pronunciation: [ɡystav kajbɔt]; 19 August 1848 – 21 February 1894) was a French painter, member and patron of the group of artists known as Impressionists, though he painted in a much more realistic manner than many other artists in the group. Caillebotte was noted for his early interest in photography as an artform.

Jean-François Raffaëlli (1850 - 1924)
Jean-François Raffaëlli (April 20, 1850 at Paris- February 11, 1924 at Paris) was a French realist painter, sculptor, and printmaker who exhibited with the Impressionists. He was also active as an actor and writer. He was born in Paris, and showed an interest in music and theatre before becoming a painter in 1870. One of his landscape paintings was accepted for exhibition at the Salon in that same year. In October 1871 he began three months of study under Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris; he had no other formal training. Raffaëlli produced primarily costume pictures until 1876, when he began to depict the people of his time—particularly peasants, workers, and rag-pickers seen in the suburbs of Paris—in a realistic style.

Julien Dupré (1851–1910)
Julien Dupré (1851–1910) was a French painter. He was born in Paris on March 18, 1851 to Jean Dupré (a jeweler) and Pauline Bouillié and began his adult life working in a lace shop in anticipation of entering his family's jewelry business. The war of 1870 and the siege of Paris forced the closure of the shop and Julien began taking evening courses at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and it was through these classes that he gained admission to the École des Beaux-Arts.

At l'Ecole he studied with Isidore Pils (1813–1875) and Henri Lehmann (1814–1882). In the mid 1870s he traveled to Picardy and became a student of the rural genre painter Désiré François Laugée (1823–1896), whose daughter Marie Eléonore Françoise he would marry in 1876; the year he exhibited his first painting at the Paris Salon. Throughout his career Dupré championed the life of the peasant and continued painting scenes in the areas of Normandy and Brittany until his death on April 16, 1910.

Maximilien Luce (1858 – 1941)
Maximilien Luce (March 13, 1858 – February 6, 1941) was a French artist associated with Neo Impressionism. A printmaker, painter, and anarchist, Luce is best known for his pointillist canvases. He grew up in the working class Montparnasse, and became a painter of landscapes and urban scenes which frequently emphasize the activities of people at work. Maximilien Luce was a member of the Groupe de Lagny with Léo Gausson, Émile-Gustave Cavallo-Péduzzi and Lucien Pissarro.

Like Camille Pissarro, Luce was active with anarchist groups in Paris in the 1890s, and in 1894 served a brief prison term during the Trial of the thirty, before being acquitted. One of his friends in this period was the Swedish artist Ivan Aguéli. During World War I, Luce painted war scenes, depicting soldiers struggling against the horrors of the Great War. Luce died in Paris in 1941.

Jules Adler (1865-1952)
Born in Luxeuil, France, Jules Adler studied under Bouguereau. His scenes and subjects typically reflected the life of everyday Parisians, and he rarely portrayed the bourgeoisie class. From historical scenes of the First World War to typical street scenes, Adler carefully documented life in late 19th and early 20th century France. Particularly, Adler is best-known for his work “La Greve Au Creusot” (or “The Strike at Creusot”). This painting depicts the march of striking steelworkers, which was a fairly historical event.

Like most artists, Adler was not afraid to experiment with mediums. He left behind many lithographs, oil paintings, watercolor, charcoal and even crayon sketches in his oeuvre. Adler was known particularly for his involvement in the war effort, and even illustrated a number of war posters. Though Adler is typically not as well-known as his contemporaries worldwide, he is still regarded as one of the top French artists of his era. His paintings of the poor, working class French with titles like “The Weary” still resonate today.

André Devambez (1867 - 1944)
André Victor Édouard Devambez was born May, 26th, 1867, when his father was 23 and his mother was 22. Growing up in an artistic atmosphere, André Devambez resolved to become an artist. He studied with the portrait painter and orientalist Jean Benjamin-Constant, and also received advice from Gabriel Guay and Jules Lefebvre at the Académie Julian.
In 1899 he was elected a member of the Société des Artistes Français, at whose annual Salon he exhibited. In 1890 he won the Grand Prix de Rome de Peinture. There are nine of his works in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, including his most famous painting, La Charge. This dramatic street scene, painted c.1902, shows a violent confrontation between police and demonstrators on the Boulevard Montmartre, viewed from a high angle. This plunging perspective was one of Devambez’ artistic trademarks, as was the production of paintings on wood in small formats, works known as "les Tout-Petits". A retrospective of his work was held at the Musée de Beauvais in 1988.

Pierre Adolphe Valette (1876 – 1942)
Pierre Adolphe Valette (1876 – 1942) was a French Impressionist painter. His most acclaimed paintings are urban landscapes of Manchester, now in the collection of Manchester Art Gallery. Today, he is chiefly remembered as L. S. Lowry's tutor. Born in St Etienne in 1876, he trained at the Ecole Municipale de Beaux-Arts et des Arts Decoratifs in Bordeaux. Valette arrived in England for unknown reasons in 1904 and studied at the Birbeck Institute, today part of the University of London. In 1905 he travelled to the North West of England where he began a short career designing greetings cards and calendars for a Manchester printing company. He attended evening classes at Manchester Municipal School of Art and in 1907 he was invited to join the staff as a teacher. His French teaching style, painting by demonstration, was new to the United Kingdom. Lowry expressed great admiration for Valette, who taught him new techniques and showed him the potential of the urban landscape as a subject.

In 1920 he resigned from the Institute due to ill health. He stayed in Lancashire for a further eight years, teaching privately and painting in Manchester and Bolton. In 1928 he returned to Paris, where he died in 1942. His paintings are distinctively Impressionist; a style that suited the damp fogginess of Manchester. Manchester Art Gallery has a room devoted to him, where the viewer may compare some of his paintings with some of Lowry's, and judge to what extent Lowry's own style was influenced by Valette and by French Impressionism generally.

Jean-Julien Lemordant (1882 - 1968)
Jean-Julien Lemordant (1882 St. Malo-1968 Paris) was a Breton artist and French soldier and patriot. Lemordant grew up in Brittany and was orphaned in his teens. At first he studied architecture but made his career as a painter, initially in Rennes and later in Paris, studying under Léon Bonnat at the Beaux-Arts. The life of Brittany figured prominently in his early paintings, including his paintings for the Hôtel de l'Épée dining rooms at Quimper, and for the ceiling of the Theatre of Rennes. He was associated with Charles Cottet, and his influences included Gauguin, the Fauves, and the School of Pont-Aven. When his work was exhibited in Paris, it was to broad critical acclaim.

Jacques Majorelle (1886 - 1962)
Jacques Majorelle (March 7, 1886 - October 14, 1962), son of the celebrated Art Nouveau furniture designer Louis Majorelle, was a French painter. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nancy in 1901 and later at the Académie Julian in Paris with Schommer and Royer. In 1919 he went to Marrakech, Morocco to recover from heart problems. He returned to France in 1962 after a car incident and died later that year of complications from his injuries. His biggest art work is said to be Majorelle Garden which he created in 1924. A special colour of blue which he used extensively in the garden is named after him, Majorelle Blue.,file=193235,filename=Le_souk_de_Khemis_Jacques_Majorelle.jpg

André Fougeron (1913-1998)

André Fougeron est un peintre français né le 1er octobre 1913 à Paris et mort le 10 septembre 1998.

André Fougeron La Civilisation atlantique 1953

André Fougeron Massacre at Sakiet III 1958

André Fougeron Return from the Market (Retour du marché) 1953

World (Social) Realist Art (Index of Countries)
This blog page is part of an ongoing project by artist and part-time lecturer Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin ( to explore Realist / Social Realist art from around the world. The term Realism is used in its broadest sense to include 19th century Realism and Naturalism as well as 20th century Impressionism (which after all was following in the path of Courbet and Millet). Social Realism covers art that seeks to examine the living and working conditions of ordinary people (examples include German Expressionism, American Ashcan School and the Mexican Muralists).

Click here for (Social) Realist Art Definitions, World (Social) Realism and Global Solidarity, Art and Politics, Social Realism in history and Country Index.

Suggestions for appropriate artists from around the world welcome to

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your bog. I didn't know about Lemordant. and appreciate learning about a new artist.

Beautiful choices.