ArtHistoryEssays#3 - Essay#1-Social Realism By painting...

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Essay #1-Social Realism By painting people and images of lower-class life, painters like Caravaggio changed the art world forever. Artists were no longer limited to painting religious scenes or portraits of the nobility. Social realism and genre painting became standard practice in works of art. Thanks to Caravaggio and his contemporaries, future masters from Velazquez to David to Picasso would continue to improve on the social realist movement. The Spanish Baroque painter Diego Velazquez is one of the most influential and acclaimed painters of all time. His painting, Water Carrier of Seville , depicts an unremarkable scene from daily life, while illustrating how the artist arranged the objects in his work with a stern, mathematical rigor. Similarly, The Surrender at Breda is innovative in the way it portrays triumph in battle. While the painting itself represents ideal gentlemanly conduct, Velazquez also shows the convincing reality of the scene with the bright colors, texture, and portraitlike faces of the soldiers. Velazquez famously depicted the lower class when he painted his valet in Juan de Pareja . Another social realist, Rembrandt van Rijn painted works in Amsterdam such as The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp , which is one of the first group portraits to take on dramatic interest instead of painting simple rows faces. Rembrandt went on to create an even more dramatic group portrait in The Night Watch , which portrays a group of soldiers and local townspeople forming a parade in a city street. Nearly 130 years after Rembrandt’s death, a French painter named Jacques-Louis David became the world’s preeminent social realist painter. His work, Oath of Horatii , which used strict geometry and strident color, eventually became the emblem of the French Revolution. It shows a lesson in Republican citizenship and the sacrifices that one must make for the state. David also proved his excellence in naturalism in the painting Death of Marat , which shows a slain French patriot and friend to the revolution. Thirty years after the French Revolution, Gericault painted his famous work , Raft of the Medusa . The painting, depicting a scandalous shipwreck incident, shows the “forgotten poor” who were abandoned by their aristocratic captain. In his work, Gericault placed a black man at the top of the “survivor pyramid.” This overt symbolism represents the artists’ belief that freedom for humanity will only occur when the most oppressed people are emancipated. Complimenting his paintings, Gericault’s lithographs also show the plight of the poor. Another French realist, Millet, focused his artworks on the difficulties and simple pleasures of the peasantry. The former can be seen in The Gleaners , which shows three women who live in extreme poverty. Millet’s contemporary, Gustave Courbet, a Socialist and revolutionary, also painted democratic themes in his works. A Burial at Ornans shows the funeral of a fallen patriot, and the painting as a whole is a symbolic representation for the advancement of democracy in
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course ARH 2051 taught by Professor Westin during the Spring '06 term at University of Florida.

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ArtHistoryEssays#3 - Essay#1-Social Realism By painting...

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