• The realist movement occurred around the latter half of the 1800s, with the best pieces of realism appearing during the 1850s and 1860s. Many of the characteristics of this movement appeared as a reaction to the romanticism of the previous century.


    Realism tries to present material as close to a real-world situation as possible--no magic or ridiculous plots for literature and everyday subjects (painted plainly) in art.

    Subject Matter

    Realism in art tended to depict common subjects, such as a crumpled newspaper, rather than the pristine view of the world by previous art techniques. Realist literature usually dealt with distinctly middle-class characters and topics.


    People often confuse realism with naturalism due to their similar characteristics. Naturalism believes that science provides the ultimate truth, and realism tends to accept pragmatism--that people find truth through their experiences.


    Realist novels used ethical dilemmas going on in the mind of the characters to advance the story and send a moral or political message to the reader. Artistic realism often applied the depiction of imperfect objects to the same effect.


    People who wish to check out works with typical realist characteristics should read Mark Twain and William Dean Howells for literature, and Thomas Eakins and Henry Ossawa Tanner for artistic realism.


    Walters State Community College: An Introduction to Realism and Naturalism

    Washington State University: Compost Benefits & Uses

    World Wide Arts Resources: Realism: (1850-1880)

    More Information:

    State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota: Realism and Naturalism

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