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Genre art is the pictorial representation in any of various media of scenes or events from everyday life,such as markets, domestic settings, interiors, parties, inn scenes, and street scenes. Such representations (also called genre works, genre scenes, or genre views) may be realistic, imagined, or romanticized by the artist. Some variations of the term genre art specify the medium or type of visual work, as in genre painting, genre prints, genre photographs, and so on.
Rather confusingly, the normal meaning of genre, covering any particular combination of an artistic medium and a type of subject matter (as, for example, in the romance novel), is also used in the visual arts. Thus, genre works, especially when referring to the painting of the Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque painting—the great periods of genre works—may also be used as an umbrella term for painting in various specialized categories such as still-life, marine painting, architectural painting and animal painting, as well as genre scenes proper where the emphasis is on human figures. Painting was divided into a hierarchy of genres, with history painting at the top, as the most difficult and therefore prestigious, and still life and architectural painting at the bottom. But history paintings are a genre in painting, not genre works.
Genre is any form or type of communication in any mode with socially-agreed upon conventions developed over time. Genre is most popularly known as a category of literature, music, or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria, yet genres can be aesthetic, rhetorical, communicative, or functional. Genres form by conventions that change over time as cultures invent new genres and discontinue the use of old ones. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions. Stand-alone texts, works, or pieces of communication may have individual styles, but genres are amalgams of these texts based on agreed-upon or socially inferred conventions. Some genres may have rigid, strictly adhered-to guidelines, while others may show great flexibility.
Although the genre is very old, the romance novel or romantic novel discussed in this article is the mass-market version. Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." There are many subgenres of the romance novel, including fantasy, historical romance, paranormal fiction, and science fiction. Romance novels are read primarily by women.
The visual arts are art forms such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, photography, video, filmmaking, and architecture. Many artistic disciplines involve aspects of the visual arts as well as arts of other types. Also included within the visual arts are the applied arts such as industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and decorative art.
The following concentrates on painting, but genre motifs were also extremely popular in many forms of the decorative arts, especially from the Rococo of the early 18th century onwards. Single figures or small groups decorated a huge variety of objects such as porcelain, furniture, wallpaper and textiles.
The decorative arts are arts or crafts whose object is the design and manufacture of objects that are both beautiful and functional. It includes interior design, but not usually architecture. The decorative arts are often categorized in distinction to the "fine arts", namely painting, drawing, photography, and large-scale sculpture, which generally produce objects solely for their aesthetic quality and capacity to stimulate the intellect.
Rococo, less commonly roccoco, or "Late Baroque", is a highly ornamental and theatrical style of decoration which combines asymmetry, scrolling curves, gilding, white and pastel colors, sculpted molding, and trompe l'oeil frescoes to create the illusions of surprise, motion and drama. It first appeared in France and Italy in the 1730s and spread to Central Europe in the 1750s and 1760s. It is often described as the final expression of the Baroque movement.
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating materials, generally including kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 and 1,400 °C. The toughness, strength, and translucence of porcelain, relative to other types of pottery, arises mainly from vitrification and the formation of the mineral mullite within the body at these high temperatures. Though definitions vary, porcelain can be divided into three main categories: hard-paste, soft-paste and bone china. The category that an object belongs to depends on the composition of the paste used to make the body of the porcelain object and the firing conditions.
Genre painting, also called genre scene or petit genre, depicts aspects of everyday life by portraying ordinary people engaged in common activities. One common definition of a genre scene is that it shows figures to whom no identity can be attached either individually or collectively—thus distinguishing petit genre from history paintings (also called grand genre) and portraits. A work would often be considered as a genre work even if it could be shown that the artist had used a known person—a member of his family, say—as a model. In this case it would depend on whether the work was likely to have been intended by the artist to be perceived as a portrait—sometimes a subjective question. The depictions can be realistic, imagined, or romanticized by the artist. Because of their familiar and frequently sentimental subject matter, genre paintings have often proven popular with the bourgeoisie, or middle class. Genre themes appear in nearly all art traditions. Painted decorations in ancient Egyptian tombs often depict banquets, recreation, and agrarian scenes, and Peiraikos is mentioned by Pliny the Elder as a Hellenistic panel painter of "low" subjects, such as survive in mosaic versions and provincial wall-paintings at Pompeii: "barbers' shops, cobblers' stalls, asses, eatables and similar subjects".Medieval illuminated manuscripts often illustrated scenes of everyday peasant life, especially in the Labours of the Months in the calendar section of books of hours, most famously Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.
Everyday life, daily life or routine life comprises the ways in which people typically act, think, and feel on a daily basis. Everyday life may be described as mundane, routine, natural, habitual, or normal.
History painting is a genre in painting defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style. History paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific and static subject, as in a portrait. The term is derived from the wider senses of the word historia in Latin and Italian, meaning "story" or "narrative", and essentially means "story painting". Most history paintings are not of scenes from history, especially paintings from before about 1850.
A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.
The Low Countries dominated the field until the 18th century, and in the 17th century both Flemish Baroque painting and Dutch Golden Age painting produced numerous specialists who mostly painted genre scenes. In the previous century, the Flemish Renaissance painter Jan Sanders van Hemessen painted innovative large-scale genre scenes, sometimes including a moral theme or a religious scene in the background in the first half of the 16th century. These were part of a pattern of "Mannerist inversion" in Antwerp painting, giving "low" elements previously in the decorative background of images prominent emphasis. Joachim Patinir expanded his landscapes, making the figures a small element, and Pieter Aertsen painted works dominated by spreads of still life food and genre figures of cooks or market-sellers, with small religious scenes in spaces in the background. Pieter Brueghel the Elder made peasants and their activities, very naturalistically treated, the subject of many of his paintings, and genre painting was to flourish in Northern Europe in Brueghel's wake.
The Low Countries, the Low Lands, or historically also the Netherlands, is a coastal lowland region in northwestern Europe, forming the lower basin of the Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt rivers, divided in the Middle Ages into numerous semi-independent principalities that consolidated in the countries of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, as well as today's French Flanders.
Flemish Baroque painting refers to the art produced in the Southern Netherlands during Spanish control in the 16th and 17th centuries. The period roughly begins when the Dutch Republic was split from the Habsburg Spain regions to the south with the Spanish recapturing of Antwerp in 1585 and goes until about 1700, when Habsburg authority ended with the death of King Charles II. Antwerp, home to the prominent artists Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens, was the artistic nexus, while other notable cities include Brussels and Ghent.
Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history roughly spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence.
Adriaen and Isaac van Ostade, Jan Steen, Adriaan Brouwer, David Teniers, Aelbert Cuyp, Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch were among the many painters specializing in genre subjects in the Low Countries 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.The merry company showed a group of figures at a party, whether making music at home or just drinking in a tavern. Other common types of scenes showed markets or fairs, village festivities ("kermesse"), or soldiers in camp.
Adriaen van Ostade was a Dutch Golden Age painter of genre works.
Isaac van Ostade was a Dutch genre and landscape painter.
Jan Havickszoon Steen was a Dutch genre painter of the 17th century. His works are known for their psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour.
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, painting groups of peasants at home, 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. Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) and others painted detailed and rather sentimental groups or individual portraits of peasants that were to be influential on 19th-century painting.
In England, William Hogarth (1697–1764) conveyed comedy, social criticism and moral lessons through canvases that told stories of ordinary people ful of narrative detail (aided by long sub-titles), often in serial form, as in his A Rake's Progress , first painted in 1732–33, then engraved and published in print form in 1735.
Spain had a tradition predating The Book of Good Love of social observation and commentary based on the Old Roman Latin tradition, practiced by many of its painters and illuminators. At the height of the Spanish Empire and the beginning of its slow decline, many picaresque genre scenes of street life—as well as the kitchen scenes known as bodegones—were painted by the artists of The Spanish Golden Age, notably Velázquez (1599–1660) and Murillo (1617–82). More than a century later, the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) used genre scenes in painting and printmaking as a medium for dark commentary on the human condition. His The Disasters of War , a series of 82 genre incidents from the Peninsular War, took genre art to unprecedented heights of expressiveness.
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 (1819–77) 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. In French art this was known as the Troubador style. This trend, already apparent by 1817 when Ingres painted Henri IV Playing with His Children, culminated in the pompier art of French academicians such as Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) and Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815–91). In the second half of the century interest in genre scenes, often in historical settings or with pointed social or moral comment, greatly increased across Europe.
William Powell Frith (1819–1909) was perhaps the most famous English genre painter of the Victorian era, painting large and extremely crowded scenes; the expansion in size and ambition in 19th-century genre painting was a common trend. Other 19th-century English genre painters include Augustus Leopold Egg, Frederick Daniel Hardy,George Elgar Hicks, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Scotland produced two influential genre painters, David Allan (1744–96) and Sir David Wilkie (1785–1841). Wilkie's The Cottar's Saturday Night (1837) inspired a major work by the French painter Gustave Courbet, After Dinner at Ornans (1849). Famous Russian realist painters like Pavel Fedotov, Vasily Perov, and Ilya Repin also produced genre paintings.
In Germany, Carl Spitzweg (1808–85) specialized in gently humorous genre scenes, and in Italy Gerolamo Induno (1825–90) painted scenes of military life. Subsequently, the Impressionists, as well as such 20th-century artists as Pierre Bonnard, Itshak Holtz, 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 first true genre painter in the United States was the German immigrant John Lewis Krimmel, who learning from Wilkie and Hogarth, produced gently humorous scenes of life in Philadelphia from 1812–21. Other notable 19th-century genre painters from the United States include George Caleb Bingham, William Sidney Mount, and Eastman Johnson. Harry Roselandfocused on scenes of poor African Americans in the post-American Civil War South, and John Rogers (1829–1904) was a sculptor whose small genre works, mass-produced in cast plaster, were immensely popular in America. The works of American painter Ernie Barnes (1938–2009) and those of illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) could exemplify a more modern type of genre painting.
Japanese ukiyo-e prints are rich in depictions of people at leisure and at work, as are Korean paintings, particularly those created in the 18th century.
While genre painting began, in the 17th century, with representations by Europeans of European life, the invention and early development of photography coincided with the most expansive and aggressive era of European imperialism, in the mid-to-late 19th century, and so genre photographs, typically made in the proximity of military, scientific and commercial expeditions, often also depict the people of other cultures that Europeans encountered throughout the world.
Although the distinctions are not clear, genre works should be distinguished from ethnographic studies, which are pictorial representations resulting from direct observation and descriptive study of the culture and way of life of particular societies, and which constitute one class of products of such disciplines as anthropology and the behavioural sciences.
The development of photographic technology to make cameras portable and exposures instantaneous enabled photographers to venture beyond the studio to follow other art forms in the depiction of everyday life. This category has come to be known as street photography.
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Jan Brueghel the Elder was a Flemish painter and draughtsman. He was the son of the eminent Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Brueghel the Elder. A close friend and frequent collaborator with Peter Paul Rubens, the two artists were the leading Flemish painters in the first three decades of the 17th century.
Pieter Aertsen, called Lange Pier because of his height, was a Dutch painter in the style of Northern Mannerism. He is credited with the invention of the monumental genre scene, which combines still life and genre painting and often also includes a biblical scene in the background. He was active in his native city Amsterdam but also worked for a long period in Antwerp, then the centre of artistic life in the Netherlands.
Andries Both, was a Dutch genre painter. He was part of the group of Dutch and Flemish genre painters active in Rome in the 17th century known as the bamboccianti, who painted scenes from the everyday life of the lower classes in Rome and its countryside.
Jan Sanders van Hemessen was a leading Flemish Renaissance painter, belonging to the group of Italianizing Flemish painters called the Romanists, who were influenced by Italian Renaissance painting. Van Hemessen had visited Italy during the 1520s, and also Fontainebleau near Paris in the mid 1530s, where he was able to view the work of the colony of Italian artists known as the First School of Fontainebleau, who were working on the decorations for the Palace of Fontainebleau. Van Hemessen's works show his ability to interpret the Italian models into a new Flemish visual vocabulary.
The Bamboccianti were genre painters active in Rome from about 1625 until the end of the seventeenth century. Most were Dutch and Flemish artists who brought existing traditions of depicting peasant subjects from sixteenth-century Netherlandish art with them to Italy, and generally created small cabinet paintings or etchings of the everyday life of the lower classes in Rome and its countryside.
Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting represents the 16th-century response to Italian Renaissance art in the Low Countries. These artists, who span from the Antwerp Mannerists and Hieronymus Bosch at the start of the 16th century to the late Northern Mannerists such as Hendrik Goltzius and Joachim Wtewael at the end, drew on both the recent innovations of Italian painting and the local traditions of the Early Netherlandish artists. Antwerp was the most important artistic centre in the region. Many artists worked for European courts, including Bosch, whose fantastic painted images left a long legacy. Jan Mabuse, Maarten van Heemskerck and Frans Floris were all instrumental in adopting Italian models and incorporating them into their own artistic language. Pieter Brueghel the Elder, with Bosch the only artist from the period to remain widely familiar, may seem atypical, but in fact his many innovations drew on the fertile artistic scene in Antwerp.
Genre painting, also called petit genre, depicts aspects of everyday life by portraying ordinary people engaged in common activities. One common definition of a genre scene is that it shows figures to whom no identity can be attached either individually or collectively—thus distinguishing petit genre from history paintings and portraits. A work would often be considered as a genre work even if it could be shown that the artist had used a known person—a member of his family, say—as a model. In this case it would depend on whether the work was likely to have been intended by the artist to be perceived as a portrait—sometimes a subjective question. The depictions can be realistic, imagined, or romanticized by the artist. Because of their familiar and frequently sentimental subject matter, genre paintings have often proven popular with the bourgeoisie, or middle class.
Michelangelo Cerquozzi, known as Michelangelo delle Battaglie was an Italian Baroque painter known for his genre scenes, battle pictures, small religious and mythological works and still lifes. His genre scenes were influenced by the work of the Flemish and Dutch genre artists referred to as the Bamboccianti active in Rome who created small cabinet paintings and prints of the everyday life of the lower classes in Rome and its countryside. One of the leading battle painters active in Italy in the first half of the 17th century, Michelangelo Cerquozzi earned the nickname 'Michelangelo delle Battaglie'.
Jan Miel was a Flemish painter and engraver who was active in Italy. He initially formed part of the circle of Dutch and Flemish genre painters in Rome who are referred to as the 'Bamboccianti' and were known for their scenes depicting the lower classes in Rome. He later developed away from the Bamboccianti style and painted history subjects in a classicising style.
Joos van Craesbeeck was a Flemish baker and a painter who played an important role in the development of Flemish genre painting in the mid-17th century through his tavern scenes and dissolute portraits. His genre scenes depict low-life figures as well as scenes of middle-class people. He created a few religiously themed compositions.
Balthasar van den Bossche (1681–1715) was a Flemish painter who is mainly known for his wide range of genre subjects and occasional portraits.
Marten van Cleve the Elder was a Flemish painter and draftsman active in Antwerp between 1551 and 1581. Van Cleve is mainly known for his genre scenes with peasants and landscapes, which show a certain resemblance with the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Marten van Cleve was one of the leading Flemish artists of his generation. His subjects and compositions were an important influence on the work of Pieter Brueghel the Younger and other genre painters of his generation.
Jacob Grimmer was a Flemish landscape painter and draughtsman. His rural scenes and landscapes of views around Antwerp marked an important development in 16th century Flemish landscape painting away from the world landscape with its fantastic panoramas and whimsically-shaped gigantic rocks towards greater simplicity and authenticity. His work influenced the next generation of Flemish landscape painters. Grimmer was a capable colorist who was able to create harmonic landscapes by using realistic colours and atmospheric values effectively.
Peeter Baltens, Pieter Balten or Pieter Custodis, was a Flemish Renaissance painter, draughtsman, engraver and publisher. Baltens was also active as an art dealer and poet. He was known for his genre paintings, religious compositions and landscapes.
The world landscape, a translation of the German Weltlandschaft, is a type of composition in Western painting showing an imaginary panoramic landscape seen from an elevated viewpoint that includes mountains and lowlands, water, and buildings. The subject of each painting is usually a Biblical or historical narrative, but the figures comprising this narrative element are dwarfed by their surroundings.
Merry company is the term in art history for a painting, usually from the 17th century, showing a small group of people enjoying themselves, usually seated with drinks, and often music-making. These scenes are a very common type of genre painting of the Dutch Golden Age and Flemish Baroque; it is estimated that nearly two thirds of Dutch genre scenes show people drinking.
Abraham Willemsens or Abraham Willemsen, was a Flemish painter of history and genre paintings. His genre scenes were reminiscent of the style of the Le Nain brothers. He also produced copies after the works of Rubens.
Scottish genre art is the depiction of everyday life in Scotland, or by Scottish artists, emulating the genre art of Netherlands painters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Common themes included markets, domestic settings, interiors, parties, inn scenes, and street scenes.