Manifesto of Realism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Two documents are usually given the title of manifesto of Realism. The first, in the visual arts world, is the preface to the "Exhibition et vente de quarante tableaux et quatre dessins de l'oeuvre de Gustave Courbet" (1855) which states that:

I have studied the art of the masters and the art of the moderns, avoiding any preconceived system and without prejudice. I have no more wanted to imitate the former than to copy the latter; nor have I thought of achieving the idle aim of 'art for art's sake.' No! I have simply wanted to draw from a thorough knowledge of tradition the reasoned and free sense of my own individuality. To know in order to do: such has been my thought. To be able to translate the customs, ideas, and appearance of my time as I see them — in a word, to create a living art — this has been my aim." tr. Gustave Courbet (Léonce Bénédite)

In the literary world, the preface to The Human Comedy (1842) by Honoré de Balzac is often cited, although the term realism itself is not used in that text.

See also

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