11/04/12 Aggiornato il:

Genre painting | Scenes from everyday life



Genre painting, painting of scenes from everyday life, of ordinary people in work or recreation, depicted in a generally realistic manner. Genre art contrasts with that of landscape, portraiture, still life, religious themes, historic events, or any kind of traditionally idealized subject matter. Intimate scenes from daily life are almost invariably the subject of genre painting. The elimination of imaginative content and of idealization focuses attention upon the shrewd observation of types, costumes and settings.
The term arose in 18th-century France to describe painters specializing in one kind genre of picture, such as flowers or animals or middle-class life, and was originally used derogatively by advocates of the ideal or grand manner in art.

At the Café Concert - Edgar Degas
At the Café Concert - Edgar Degas 1834-1917

Edouard Manet 1832-1883 - Genre painting



Rose and Amélie - Edvard Munch 1894 - Genre painting
Rose and Amélie 1894, Edvard Munch

Wilhelm August Lebrecht Amberg 1822-1899 - Genre painting
Wilhelm August Lebrecht Amberg 1822-1899

- The Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder made peasants and their activities the subject of many of his paintings, and genre painting was to flourish in Northern Europe in Brueghel's wake. Adriaen and Isaac van Ostade, David Teniers, Aelbert Cuyp, Johannes Vermeer and Pieter De Hooch were among the many painters specializing in genre subjects in the Netherlands during the 17th century. The generally small scale of these artists' paintings was appropriate for their display in the homes of middle class purchasers. Often the subject of a genre painting was based on a popular emblem from an Emblem book. This can give the painting a double meaning, such as in Gabriel Metsu's The Poultry seller, 1662, showing an old man offering a rooster in a symbolic pose that is based on a lewd engraving by Gillis van Breen 1595–1622, with the same scene.

Edgar Degas - Genre painting

- In Italy, a "school" of genre painting was stimulated by the arrival in Rome of the Dutch painter Pieter van Laer in 1625. He acquired the nickname "Il Bamboccio" and his followers were called the Bamboccianti, whose works would inspire Giacomo Ceruti, Antonio Cifrondi, and Giuseppe Maria Crespi among many others.
- Louis le Nain was an important exponent of genre painting in 17th century France, where the 18th century would bring a heightened interest in the depiction of everyday life, whether through the romanticized paintings of Watteau and Fragonard, or the careful realism of Chardin.

Johannes Vermeer - Young Woman with a Water Pitcher - Genre painting
Johannes Vermeer 1632-1675 - Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

Johannes Vermeer - Young Woman with a Water Pitcher - Genre painting
Johannes Vermeer 1632-1675 - Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

- In England, William Hogarth conveyed social criticism and moral lessons through canvases that told stories of ordinary people, often in serial form. William Powell Frith is perhaps the most famous English genre painter and was admired by many of his contemporaries. Other English genre painters include Augustus Leopold Egg, George Elgar Hicks, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
- Scotland produced two influential genre painters, David Allan 1744-96 and Sir David Wilkie 1785-1841. Gustave Courbet 1819-77 one of France's most famous genre painters, based his celebrated painting 'After Dinner at Ornans' 1849 on Wilkie's 'The Cottar's Saturday Night' 1837. Famous Russian realist painters like Vasily Perov and Ilya Repin 1844-1930 also tried out in the genre paintings.

Rembrandt van Rijn - The Anatomy Lesson - Genre painting
Rembrandt van Rijn - The Anatomy Lesson

- Spain had an old tradition standing since before The Book of Good Love of social observation and commentary based on the Old Roman Latin tradition and to this many of its painters,and illuminated miniature painters followed work. Pedro Berruguete brought his social scenes and critic with many of its works.What at the height of the Spanish Empire was continued including scenes of street life picaresque and at its slow falling eventually produced many works by the painters of The Spanish Golden Age, Velázquez, Murillo and others. The Spanish artist Francisco De Goya used genre painting as a medium for dark commentary on the human condition.
- The first true genre painter in the United States was German immigrant John Lewis Krimmel, who learning from Wilkie and Hogarth, produced gently humorous scenes of life in Philadelphia from 1812-21. One of the more notable genre painters from the United States was Harry Roseland, who focused on scenes of poor African Americans in the post-American Civil War South.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida - Genre painting

With the decline of religious and historical painting in the 19th century, artists increasingly found their subject matter in the life around them. Realists such as Gustave Courbet upset expectations by depicting everyday scenes in huge paintings-at the scale traditionally reserved for "important" subjects-thus blurring the boundary which had set genre painting apart as a "minor" category. History painting itself shifted from the exclusive depiction of events of great public importance to the depiction of genre scenes in historical times, both the private moments of great figures, and the everyday life of ordinary people. Subsequently the Impressionists, as well as such 20th century artists as Pierre Bonnard, Edward Hopper, and David Park painted scenes of daily life, but in the context of modern art the term "genre painting" has come to be associated mainly with painting of an especially anecdotal or sentimental nature, painted in a traditionally realistic technique. The works of American painter Ernie Barnes and those of illustrator Norman Rockwell could exemplify a more modern type of genre painting.

At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
At the Moulin Rouge, The Dance - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec