McAndrew #1

Realism emerged as a artistic movement throughout the 1800s. Depicting life at its unrefined core, artists, such as Daumier and Millet, illustrated the daily struggles of the lower, working-class men and women. Rather than focusing on the extravagant and glorious, Realism delved into the harsh realities of the common people.

Daumier's "The Uprising," was likely a response the French Revolution of 1848, an event seeing the overthrow of Louis-Phillipe's monarchy. Like many artists of the period, Honore Daumier tried to expose sociopolitical issues in his artwork, rather than primarily painting for beauty. Capturing the fervent clamor for reform in the faces of the revolutionaries, Daumier imbues the painting with an explosive sense of "pent-up human indignation," particularly attracting the audience's focus to the white-shirted man in the middle. The individual calls out amidst the masses, his white shirt possibly symbolizing purity and liberty.
The unfinished third part of a three-part series commissioned by Sir William Thomas Walters (the other paintings being First-Class Carriage and Second-Class Carriage), "The Third-Class Carriage" portrays three familial generations. An older woman (likely a grandmother), a mother, and her infant child. The grandmother's weary face indicates hardship, suggesting the presence of tragic misfortunes throughout her life and thus facing her approaching future with bleak resignation. While individuals in the background converse animatedly amongst each other, the family appears to exist in their own realm, ignored by all other figures on the train. They remain permanently captured in transit, alone and eternally seeking new opportunities. Daumier sought to win the hearts of his viewer's by depicting the minor breaks of solace in the long term reality of the impoverished's plight.
Inspired by his inability to pay the fare to visit his dying mother - "I am nailed to a rock and condemned to hard labor without end!" - Millet illustrated the bitter despair of poverty in "Man with a Hoe." Remembered primarily for the great controversy precipitated by the painting's release, Millet, caught in a rebellious phase, had fully intended on creating such a sensational depiction of the exploited workingman. "Man with a Hoe will get me into hot water with a number of people who don't like to be asked to contemplate a different world from the one they're used to, who hate being disturbed out of their serenity." The hopeless laborer is marked by a dulling emptiness, his soul wrecked by endless toil.
Halting their work and dropping their farming equipment, the two farmers central to the painting are captured reciting the Angelus in commemoration of the Gabriel's Annunciation. As Daumier's "Third-Class Carriage" focused on breaks in hardship to illustrate the short moments of solace relative to grim reality, Millet both portrays a brief respite from work, despite dreary surroundings, and also emphasizes the inherent humanity of the working classes - though the farmers are quite poor, they too take time for prayer. And yet as the two recite Angelus as two lone individuals, this sense of humanity is wholly ignored by the upper classes as a means to justify exploitation.
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