Rural Realism 

Jean-François Millet
Le Paysan rentrant du fumier (Man with a Wheelbarrow or Peasant Returning from the Dung Heap)
etching and drypoint on laid paper
8 9/16 in x 6 9/16 in (21.75 cm x 16.67 cm);19 1/4 in x 14 1/4 in (48.89 cm x 36.2 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Theodore B. Russell
Jean-François Millet
The Mendicant
black chalk on off-white paper
15 3/16 in x 17 1/2 in (38.58 cm x 44.45 cm);25 in x 26 3/4 in (63.5 cm x 67.94 cm);15 3/16 in x 17 1/2 in (38.58 cm x 44.45 cm)
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker
A woman is shown seated in a simple interior. She is holding carding combs and is seated next to a pile of uncarded wool on one side and skeins of yarn on the other. Behind her is the wheel of a spinning wheel.
Jean-François Millet
La Cardeuse (The Wool Carder)
etching and drypoint on laid paper
14 3/16 in x 9 3/4 in (36.04 cm x 24.77 cm);14 3/16 in x 9 3/4 in (36.04 cm x 24.77 cm);10 3/16 in x 6 15/16 in (25.88 cm x 17.62 cm);19 1/4 in x 14 1/4 in (48.89 cm x 36.2 cm)
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker
Jules Bastien-Lepage
Mower Sharpening his Scythe (Faucheur aiguisant sa faux)
etching and drypoint on paper
7 7/8 in. x 10 3/8 in. ( 20 cm x 26.4 cm )
Gift of Prof. and Mrs. Alfred H. White
This quick pencil study shows five sketches of a man digging; he is not seen in a single pose, but these sketches seen from behind explore a number of actions that are part of the digging.
Camille Pissarro
Studies of a Peasant Digging (Études d'un paysan bêchant)
graphite on greenish-yellow wove paper
8 3/16 in. x 4 5/8 in. ( 20.8 cm x 11.8 cm )
Museum Purchase
A group of women can be seen in a field raking hay.  The central woman faces the viewer in the foreground; she wears a hat that shades her face.  Behind her are two other women, also raking hay, shown from behind.
Camille Pissarro
Faneuses (Haymakers)
etching on Holland paper
7 3/4 in x 5 1/4 in (19.7 cm x 13.3 cm);7 3/4 in x 5 1/4 in (19.69 cm x 13.34 cm);19 1/4 in x 14 3/8 in (48.9 cm x 36.5 cm)
Museum Purchase
This drawing shows a street scene with a number of people at a market, many of whom are carrying blue or white umbrellas. A lamp post is in the foreground, and line drawings of buildings comprise the background, and birds fly in the sky amid quickly sketched out white-grey clouds. The color palette is comprised of blues, browns, whites, greens and specks of red.
Camille Pissarro
Market Scene, Town Square
watercolor and gouache on paper
17 3/8 x 18 1/2 x 3 in. ( 44.13 x 46.99 x 7.62 cm )
Bequest from the Estate and Trust of Elise Reeder Olton
Painting of a woman holding two sleeping nude babies, wearing white fabric draped over her head and shoulders with abundant blue-green fabric wrapped and loosely gathered around the rest of her body standing in front of a lush background with areas of blue sky peaking through the foliage.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Charity (La Charité)
oil on canvas
54 ⅞ in x 44 ¼ in x 2 ½ in (139.38 cm x 112.4 cm x 6.35 cm);54 ⅞ in x 44 ¼ in x 2 ½ in (139.38 cm x 112.4 cm x 6.35 cm)
Bequest of Henry C. Lewis

The shifting political atmosphere of France in the mid-nineteenth century inspired a new movement in arts called realism. Realism’s aim was to “give a truthful, objective, and impartial representation of the real world, based on meticulous observation of contemporary life," in the words of art historian Linda Nochlin. However, a realist painting does not necessarily mean it is realistic in its depictions, but rather real in the sense that it depicts contemporary subject matter in a non-idealistic way, contrary to Romanticist works. 

The Nut Gatherers | Detroit Institute of Arts Museum

Nut Gatherers, William-Adolphe Bouguereau 1882

Jean-François Millet was a painter known for his realist portrayals of peasant life which, in contrary to the bucolic and peaceful scenes of peasants in paintings before, informed the sheltered French urbanites of the hardships and struggles peasant farmers lived through daily. 

Stylistically, realist works did not have the typical "licked surface" of Academic paintings such as those of Bougeureau's. They had rough surfaces, as artists such as Gustave Courbet utilized unconventional objects such as knives and hands to lay the paint on canvas, instead of brushes. They also abandoned the seamless transitions and incorporated more outlines, and incoporated more "sketchy" strokes of paint to their works. These "avant-garde" painting techniques were slammed in the Parisian press, often caricatured, making fun of their "poor people" subject in "poor" painting skills.


The Stone Breakers - Wikipedia

Stonebreakers, Gustave Courbet 1849

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