Realism may be generally defined as the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without lie and avoiding artistic conventions, implausible, exotic and supernatural elements. The term originated in the 19th century, and was used to describe the work of Gustave Courbet and a group of painters who rejected idealization, focusing instead on everyday life.

In this nocturnal scene, the waning moon throws a mysterious light across the plain extending between the villages of Barbizon and Chailly. Millet was recorded as saying of the solitary shepherd: Oh, how I wish I could make those who see my work feel the splendors and terrors of the night! One ought to be able to make people hear the songs, the silences, and murmurings of the air. They should feel the infinite. . . .
The Portrait of Charles-André Langevin belongs to a series of important figures from Le Havre painted by Millet in 1845. Customs inspector, then head of customs for the port, Langevin is portrayed here in the undoubtedly more flattering activity of art collector. By commissioning Millet to paint his portrait, Langevin would add a masterwork to his collection.
The impressions brought from Siberia, have inspired him on new pictures. After the Taking of Snow Fortress Surikov started painting The Conquest of Siberia by Yermak (1895). The battle of the 16th century between the Cossacks under their ataman (commander) Yermak Timofeevich and the troops of Kuchum-Khan, the ruler of Siberia, he showed with reliability of a witness.
The theme of the painting is Peter the Great’s suppression of the Streltsy uprising of 1698 in Moscow and the execution of the rebels. Peter and his close associates personally took part in the execution. Surikov intentionally defied reality and brought St Basil’s Cathedral closer to the Kremlin walls, making the space of Red Square compacted and oppressive.
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