American realism emerges in the last half of the 1800s; it is focused on precise imitation of visual perceptions without alteration. The subject matter is now facts of the world (what can be touched or sensed), some nature, industrialization, and the working class. Homer, who used direct observation of nature, and at 38 started to use water colors and a little less realism; Eakins, who wanted to be as real as possible, drew crucifixion based on a model and studied cadavers. This project includes five works by American artists, with explanations of why they fit into realism, and what the work explains about America at the time. 

Croquet Scene, Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910), 1866, From the collection of: The Art Institute of Chicago
This showed how important leisure time was now to the American public- games like croquet and other sports became a common pastime, as well as shopping. This scene is depicted with strong color and brush strokes as well as it being very realistic.
At the Window, Winslow Homer, 1872, From the collection of: Princeton University Art Museum
This, once again, is very realistic, showing a scene that could easily happen in a fairly lifelike style. It showed how some Americans had time for relaxation and leisure, in lovely homes, and time for reflection that wasn't perhaps available in earlier decades.
Swimming, Thomas Eakins, 1885, From the collection of: Amon Carter Museum of American Art
This is an important example of realism; the human bodies are drawn nude, with enormous attention to detail and muscle. The painting likely very close to how the actual scene looked. It also reflected the prevalence of free time in American culture; people would have time to GO swimming, they would GO to the park, and this was a national phenomenon.
The Concert Singer, Thomas Eakins, American, 1844 - 1916, 1890-1892, From the collection of: Philadelphia Museum of Art
This painting is an example of the realist technique- it is intended to look exactly like real life, with strong and defined brush strokes and colors that likely echo closely the model herself. The work also shows how important creative pursuits were becoming for Americans- singing was valued, and obviously this woman is very fashionable and probably admired.
Nude with Fan, George Wesley Bellows, 1920, From the collection of: North Carolina Museum of Art
This was very much an example of realism- there is no attempt at an idealistic body, and instead it is drawn with realistic shadows and a figure that is likely very similar to the model. It shows how many Americans no longer wanted to depict religious deities and instead chose regular humans.
Credits: All media
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