The evolution of painting in the 19th century was stimulated by a variety of factors, one of them being represented by the democratic ideals and the nationalist impulses that surrounded France especially from 1830 and which culminated with the Revolution of 1848 . As a result of this Revolution Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became President of the French Republic . In this historical period the Realist art emerged and developed. The major characteristic of this new artistic movement emphasized the realistic representation and recording of the surrounding world together with its folklore before it disappeared . Moreover, through their representation of their own time in pictures, action which brought them great criticism, the artists tried to make their works accessible to all people and this is probably the reason why these new representations were rather supported by the middle class than by the bourgeoisie . Gustave Courbet, Honorè Daumier and Jean-François Millet are some of the key figures of Realist art and in this essay their art works will be discussed in relation to Realism’s features and key principles.
Gustave Courbet was a leader of the Realist movement which he also represented through his pictures . Until 1848 Courbet preferred to work in obscurity. However, this preference changed with the Revolution of 1848, period in which he produced some of his most famous paintings: ‘The Stone Breakers’ (1849) (Plate 1) and ‘A Burial at Ornans’ (Plate 2) (1848-9), exhibited at the 1849 and 1849-1851 Paris Salon . Unlike the majority types of painting that existed in that period, Courbet chose to paint familiar subjects , for example peasants. These subjects brought Courbet great criticism but not specifically because of the painting itself but because of its size. The aristocracy infuriated arguing that only sovereigns