In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Revolution of 1848 broke out like a series of brushfires across the continent of Europe. Although the uprising of the lower classes and the peasants was the last significant attempt to achieve political equality, the Revolution brought the plight of the lower classes to the cultural forefront. Realism challenged and replaced the rubrics of Romanticism. Although Realism is usually associated with the artistic movement in France, Realism was an international movement that was both visual and literary and philosophical. Idealism in philosophy was replaced by Materialism and empirical thinking, giving rise to an artistic need to be “of one’s own times.” Realism in the nineteenth century was not just a political or social impulse, it was also a set of concepts that stressed the contemporary in the visual arts.
Also listen to “Realism in Europe, Part Two”, and read “Avant-Garde Realism inFrance” and “Realism and the Role of the Realist Artist” and “Realism and Naturalism in Art” and “Avant-Garde Realism in England” and “The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood”