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Realism / Naturalism
(c. 1840 - c. 1870)

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Realism in art and literature may be described as an attempt to describe human behaviour and surroundings or to represent figures and objects exactly as they act or appear in life. Attempts at realism have been made periodically throughout history in all the arts; the term is, however, generally restricted to a movement that began in the mid-19th century, in reaction to the highly subjective approach of Romanticism. The difference between realism and naturalism is harder to define, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. The distinction lies in the fact that realism is concerned directly with what is absorbed by the senses; naturalism, a term more properly applied to literature, attempts to apply scientific theories to art. 

Denmark 1976. Realism/Naturalism. Otto Bache. A String of Horses outside an Inn.

Art
In art, although a clearly defined realist school has never evolved, a realist approach has been manifested in different ways at various times. The term realist, used to describe a work of art, has often simply meant that "ugly" objects or figures are represented, as opposed to those considered "beautiful".

One of the finest philatelic examples of Danish Realism, considered "beautiful",  is shown in the famous painting by Otto Bache (1839-1927), issued as Hafnia Block # III, for the benefit of HAFNIA '76.  

The painting is named "A String of Horses outside an Inn"; the original painting was created in 1878, and is on permanent display at the National History Museum of Frederiksborg, Denmark.  

  • Denmark 1976. Otto Bache's painting "A String of Horses outside an Inn". The block is designed by Holger Philipsen, and engraved by Czeslaw Slania.  

A large number of Danish painters have excelled in the Realist Style, and among the better ones that have had their works issued on stamps are Michael Ancher, P.C. Skovgaard, and P.S. Kroyer.   

Denmark 1996. Realism/Naturalism. Michael Ancher. Girl with Sunflowers. Denmark 1992. Realism/Naturalism. P.C. Skovgaard. Landscape by Halleby Aa. Denmark 1996. Realism/Naturalism. P.S. Kroyer. Lunchtime.

"Realism" is frequently used to describe scenes of humble life, but in such cases the term implies a criticism of social conditions. Thus, some of the works of the French artists Gustave Courbet, Honoré Daumier, and Jean-François Millet have been described as socialist realism. This is, of course, a matter of taste, since Socialist Realism only appeared in 1933 and later, following Stalin's definition of art in the Soviet Union. Below are shown examples of works by the French artists Jean-François Millet, Honoré Daumier, and Gustave Courbet. They are all charming paintings in their own right from the period. But they are not Socialist Realism. 
 
Burundi 1967. Realism/Naturalism. Jean-François Millet. The Sowers. Romania 1966. Realism/Naturalism. Honoré Daumier. The Train Compartment. Dahomey 1969.  Realism/Naturalism. Gustave Courbet. The Artist's Atelier.

In the United States, William Sidney Mount's quiet Long Island scene Eel Spearing at Setauket (1845) is in the realist style; the artist portrays his subjects with simplicity and respect but little elaboration. Mount diverges in style from the Romanticism of his contemporaries of the Hudson River School. American realist painting also includes the honest, matter-of-fact portraits by Thomas Eakins, of his contemporaries, and the works of the American artists known collectively as the Ashcan School or The Eight, who at the beginning of the 20th century attempted to paint the American urban scene as it really was.  .

Literature 
Realist literature is defined particularly as the fiction produced in Europe and the United States from about 1840 until the 1890s, when realism was superseded by naturalism. This form of realism began in France in the novels of Gustave Flaubert and the short stories of Guy de Maupassant. In Russia, realism was represented in the plays and short stories of Anton Chekhov. The novelist George Eliot introduced realism into English fiction; as she declared in Adam Bede (1859), her purpose was to give a "faithful representation of commonplace things". One realist author represented on this site is the American novelist Mark Twain. 

Sources and links:

Well known artists -- in alphabetical order -- from this period (not necessarily represented on stamps).  Those marked with an asterisk are represented on this page. Click on an active link to go directly to the individual artist.  

Painting
  • Michael & Anna Ancher (Denmark) *
  • Otto Bache (Denmark) *
  • Carl Bloch (Denmark) 
  • Emily Carr (Canadian female painter)
  • Courbet (France)
  • Daumier (France)
  • Exner (Denmark) 
  • "The Group of Seven"  (Canadian Painters) 
  • P.S. Krøyer (Denmark) *
  • Jean Paul Lemieux (Canada) 

Literature

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