Week 5: Realism and Impressionism

Week 5: Realism and Impressionism

For this week’s discussion, choose realism or impressionism as a basis for your posts and discuss how your choice is manifested in any area of the humanities (i.e., painting, sculpture, literature, music, etc.), and give an example from any discipline in the humanities to illustrate how realism or impressionism influenced the work of art. Please be sure to give an analysis of how the work of art was influenced by the movement.

From student: BB

Hi Professor and Class,

Realism and Impressionism in area of painting, sculpture, literature, and music have existed since the beginning of human civilization. Artifacts and objects excavated from Stone, Bronze, Iron Age are prime examples of ancient arts. The survived remains of earthen wares, arrow heads, figurines, cutting tools, and writing on cave walls were considered folk arts accomplished by masterful artists. The artifacts might not have the sophisticated techniques and complex composition compared to current expectations and standards; however, considering the limited resources and available tools in the past, the objects were created by artists with advanced knowledge and skillful bare hands.

“Before the discovery of Chauvet, historians divided the history of cave painting into a series of successive styles, each progressively more realistic. But Chauvet’s paintings, by far the oldest known, are also the most advanced in their realism, suggesting the artist’s conscious quest for visual naturalisim” (Sayre, 2012, p. 35). Realism, the earliest form of artistic works, has been prevalent in the past and its goal is to depict and represent the objects truthfully or ideas as real as possible to the very eyes. Impressionism was the transformation or evolution from the realist school. Impressionists departed from the traditional and incorporating innovative technology and modern ideas. Realism and impressionism can be metaphorically compared to country and rock- and-roll music in which lyrics are similar for both styles; however, country music is subtle, simple and clear whereas rock-and-roll has strong beats and rich in melody. Realism and impressionism were popularized in the 18th century by the French artists whose prolific works produced during this period promoted widespread movements of art styles in the world for years to come.

The inserted painting “Nighthawks” presents one of the work by the American realist Edward Hopper. Edward Hopper said this painting was inspired by “a restaurant on New York’s Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet. The painting depicts a plain restaurant in a desert corner with three diners and a worker. The bright light shows the uncommunicative souls seemed lost in time. Hopper acknowledged that in Nighthawks “unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city” (Hopper, 1942).


Sayre, H. M. (2012). Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Hopper, E. (1942). Nighthawks. Retrieved from: https://www.artic.edu/artworks/111628/nighthawks

From the instructor:

Bich, this work by Hopper is much later than the style of 19th c. Realism we are discussing. It follows in the stylistic footsteps of the period we are learning about though. Can you discuss any of the 19thc works that preceded this?

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