Realism vs Impressionism | What Is The Difference?

Realism vs Impressionism

Impressionism is an art trend that arose from Realism's classic style. Although many of the most famous works of art from both periods share certain characteristics, Impressionism was heavily influenced by painters like as Jean-Francois Millet, Gustave Corbet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and others.

These painters concentrated on depicting the world as it was, without any coloration, perspective, or other characteristics that would obstruct the natural imagery seen with the naked eye. Realism evolved and developed throughout the nineteenth century, eventually transitioning into Impressionism in some locations. Impressionist painters, like Realism painters, aimed to depict scenes from the world around them in such a way that they captured as much of the genuine views as possible.

The primary distinction between impressionism and realism is that impressionism intended to capture the essence of the object and its interaction with light, whereas realism attempted to correctly and truly reflect subject matter, particularly common everyday life.


Is there a connection between impressionism and realism?

Impressionism (1870–1890), the earliest of the Modern Art styles, had its initial roots in Realism's traditions. Most Realist painters prepared sketches or studies to finish in the studio, and they frequently used figures and other props to aid in the completion of their works.

The main distinction between Impressionist painters and Realist painters was that several of them focused on the more enjoyable parts of social life and the natural environment, as well as views of the towns and cities they visited, rather than showing exactly what they saw.

What exactly is realism?

Because many artists during this time period focused on natural settings rather than the numerous forms of social connections and everyday life that most Impressionists would later utilize as subject matter, realism was also known as naturalism. In many parts of the world, Realism is said to have emerged as an art trend considerably earlier than Impressionism.

Artists have been looking to the reality around them for a given subject since the 1700s, portraying things exactly as they were in reality. The idea of painting as realistically as possible has been popular at various points throughout antiquity, but the Realist movement began as a way for artists to underline particular realities about the world around them, frequently for political reasons.

During the early-to-mid 1800s, the style of art achieved its pinnacle, as painters continued to look to the environment around them in a way that portrayed truth.


What impact did realism have on impressionism?

The use of light marked the transition from realism to impressionism. Artists discovered that painting outside, in the moment, allowed them to better understand light and how it influences color. Brushstrokes became increasingly fast and fragmented, indicating how light gives everything we perceive a transient character.

What is the goal of realism?

During the early stages of Realism, some artists saw it as a way for artists to capture and report the world around them, much like newspapers did. Many of Robert Henri's works and teachings focused on the tough city life that residents in New York City were forced to contend with during the mid-nineteenth century, and he is credited for igniting the Realism movement in the United States. "Henri wanted art to be analogous to journalism," noted art critic Robert Hughes of the painter.

He wanted the paint to be "as genuine as muck," "as real as the clods of horse-shit and snow that fell on Broadway in the winter," "as real a human product as perspiration, bearing the unmasked odor of human life."

Many Realism artists were successful in capturing the public's attention in order to draw attention to certain issues and characteristics of their society that they wished to alter. In many aspects, the art style has stayed essentially unchanged, and it continues to serve as a vehicle for artists to employ various mediums to portray the world around them in a way that brings particular topics to the forefront of people's minds.


Realism Inevitably Lead to Impressionism

After painters in France and other parts of Europe used many of the same thought patterns and approaches to create works that were more inspiring and satisfying to spectators, Impressionism took shape in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Unlike the dark and gritty paintings that were popular during the peak of the Realism movement, many of the best Impressionist painters focused largely on modern subject matter that was enjoyable to look at.


The Impressionist Movement

Impressionism is a style of painting that was popular during the nineteenth century.  Several artists emerged from the Impressionist movement who have long been regarded as some of history's most influential and accomplished painters. The majority most well artists were from France and other adjacent nations when the movement originated in Europe.

Artists were focusing attention on painting natural settings and other forms of social engagement in a broad, colorful manner throughout the last few decades of the nineteenth century, which was a clear divergence from Realism.

Impressionism vs. Realism: What's the Difference?

There are numerous distinctions between Impressionism and Realism that distinguish them from one another. Most importantly, each style of painting had a distinct focus and subject matter. Impressionist artists appeared to paint works that were dedicated to scenes and activities that had an essence of fleeting beauty—often depicting landscapes, cities, social gatherings, and other scenes late at night when the sunlight played a crucial role in generating shadows and glowing effects on the topics on canvas.

Many well Impressionist artists would sit in a particular location at a specific time of day to gain a more informative and accurate sense of how the sunlight started playing across the faces of guests at a party in a crowded section of Paris, or how the water and boats appeared to arise through the thick fog and haze on the seaports and other coastal areas.

Overview of Impressionist Paintings

Many Impressionist painters went out into the country of France, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe to sketch natural sceneries or other locations that they would later work on more extensively in their studios. Many of the most well-known Impressionist painters were known to have created many of their most renowned works while sitting outside for lengthy periods of time, watching the sun play across the surfaces of constructions and natural forces throughout the day. Painters used several types of portable easels at the period, which could be folded down and transferred from one area to another with considerable ease.

Artists no longer had to spend more time mixing and organizing their colors before getting down to begin on the painting because the paint was now available in tubes. Many of the most popular painters from the past had refined the style and technique of fastening the components of a brush together during this time, therefore paintbrushes are indeed being produced to a better standard. Artists were able to be far more flexible than ever before, going to certain spots during the day to sit and paint the scene around them, thanks to a slew of new inventions.

Impressionist Characteristics

During this time, a number of artists rose to prominence as they discovered a new sense of beauty and viewpoint in the world, as well as new subject matter that previous painters had overlooked. Claude Monet was possibly the most well-known Impressionist artist, as many of his paintings were inspired by nature in some way.

Many of his most important pieces were painted outside in the open air, and his bold compositions concentrated on huge scenes of outdoor magnificence. Edgar Degas created scenes from many perspectives of life in Paris in the late 1800s, depicting dancing, athletic activities, and other social gatherings that were prevalent in late-nineteenth-century France.

The lighting effects created by the rising and setting sun are prominent in many of the Impressionist movement's most well-known paintings. Subjects were painted in a way that highlighted the beauty of the sunlight's ability to dance across things like water, trees, and the human figure, with shadows that were slightly more apparent than in other art forms. When comparing Impressionism to Post Impressionism, the post-impressionists employed more brilliant colors and pure black, whilst Impressionists used more muted colors.


Techniques for Artists

Impressionist artists' brushwork was often conspicuous because it was considerably more expansive and sweeping than Realism paintings' delicate, detail-oriented strokes. Both Impressionism and Realism have played a significant influence in a variety of mediums of artistic expression from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day.

Both Impressionism and Expressionism are based on Realism, and art before Realism rarely depicted mundane scenes or ordinary people. Some of the most essential and engaging features from each genre have survived and helped to shape works from the Modern and Contemporary Art eras, and will likely continue to do so for many years.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Turn Your Art Into Income