The adjective realist is applied to works as diverse as Roman statuary, Renaissance painting, Constructivist sculpture and New Realist assemblages. Given the plasticity of the term, Positivist Realism needs to be defined.
Realism in the nineteenth century
L'enfant du positivisme triomphant
Contexte philosophique et intellectuel
Styles et sujets réalistes
a political painter?
3. Representations of death
Since the Realist credo was that only the observed could be treated, the supernatural was excluded from the list of possible subjects. As a result, religious painting concentrated on depictions of worship rather than the divine, and a new genre, the depiction of death, emerged, characterised by an almost medical approach to human finitude.
The realists' battle cry as an imperative for modernisation
A correlation table with two variables, subject and style, can schematise the problem raised by being or not being of one's time: the subject will be ancient or contemporary and the style academic or realistic.
If the subject is ancient and the style realistic, the painting is a photographic and archaeological reconstruction of scenes from an unobservable past. Conversely, if the subject is contemporary and the style is academic, painting or sculpture seem inappropriate.
Readings Linda Nochlin, Realism, Style and Civilisation, Penguin books, 1973