Although it is the French painter, Gustave Courbet, (1819-1877) who has been credited with being the leading figure in Europe of the Realist Movement ( also called Social Realism), Realism can be traced back to the eighteenth century. In France, the neoclassical painter, Theodore Gericault, (1791-1824), depicted a shipwreck off the African Coast with 150 passengers aboard in his painting: "Raft of the Medusa", 1819. In his documentation of this real tragedy, he thus broke with the tradition of painting heroic history accounts or flattering portraits for the aristocracy. In England, JMW Turner, (1775-1851), in his painting "The Slave Ship", 1840, depicted the scene of horror where the Captain, on realizing that his insurance company would not reimburse him for slaves sick or dying at sea, ordered the sick slaves overboard, iron shackles bound to their hands and feet.
The Social Realist painters continued to be devoted to describing the toil and hardships of the societies in which they lived: the subjects formerly considered "of poor taste or low-class": the mundane, the working-class urban laborers, the peasants. One of my all-time favorite social-realist paintings is : "Third-Class Carriage", 1862, by Honore Daumier, the French painter and caricaturist. Daumier, (1808-1879) was a defender of the working class, a social critic and political protestor.
In the USA, Winslow Homer,( 1836-1910), was a leading social-realist painter. he became an artist-reporter for the Harper's Weekly in 1860 while covering the American Civil War.
REFERENCE: Fred S. KLEINER, 2014. "Art Through the Ages: a Western Perspective. Clark Baxter Publishers.
I have begun a series on the people, such as myself, who use public transportation to get around. When I ride a bus, I assume that I am taking my place in this society composed of multiple personalities and complex profiles.
My next painting: "The Crossroads", portrays everyday citizens, the modest, the less than modest, the forgotten, the marginalized...whose lives and destinies may intersect or collide. It is a perilous journey between life and death: a rich person may lose his/her wealth and a poor one may win the lottery.