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Chapter 9

Realism and the Urban Poor

The conviction that art could promote social and political change inspired increasing  numbers of artists. Paintings, prints, and sculptures depicted the unnecessarily destitute living and working conditions of the urban lower classes for a more fortunate, affluent audience. The emotional tone of these images could be sentimental, straightforward, condescending, or ennobling depending on the artist's own attitudes and the reaction (s)he sought to evoke in her/his audience. Likewise, viewer reactions varied and were not always predictable: some responded with a feeling of superiority, others with pity, and some were roused to social activism. These portrayls attest to the intensifying interest of artists in showing the appearance of their time, which was changing at a rapid pace.

Readings:

Boime, Albert. Art in an Age of Civil Struggle, 1848-1871. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2007

Cherry, Deborah. Painting Women: Victorian Women Artists. London: Routledge, 1993

Clark, T.J. The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France, 1848-1851.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982

Harris, Beth, ed. Famine and Fashion: Needlewomen in the Nineteenth Century. London: Ashgate, 2005

Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Capital: 1848-1875. New York: Vintage Books, 1996

Jackson, David. The Wanderers and Critical Realism in Nineteenth-Century Russian Painting. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011

Macleod, Dianne Sachko. Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996

McWilliam, Neil. Dreams of Happiness: Social Art and the French Left, 1830-1850. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993

Nochlin, Linda, ed. Realism and Tradition in Art, 1848-1900: Sources and Documents. Englewood: Prentice Hall, 1966

Nunn, Pamela Gerrish. Problem Pictures: Women and Men in Victorian Painting. Aldershot and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1995

Thomas, Julia. Victoria Narrative Painting. London: Tate, 2000

Valkenier, Elizabeth Kridl. “The Peredvizhniki and the Spirit of the 1860s,” Russian Review, vol. 34, no. 3 (July 1975): 247-65

Varnedoe, Kirk. Northern Light: Nordic Art at the Turn of the Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988

Weisberg, Gabriel P. Beyond Impressionism: The Naturalist Impulse. New York: Abrams, 1992

Wood, Christopher. Victorian Painting. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999

Subtitle: 
Realism and the Urban Poor

Web Resources

Metmuseum: Realism

 

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