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.
A genre art is a genre of fine art, dedicated to everyday, private and public life, usually to a modern artist. The Genre art includes everyday (genre) painting, graphics and sculpture, mostly of small size. Genre art, known since ancient times, stood out in a separate genre of art only in the feudal era. The flourishing of the genre of the modern era is associated with the growth of democratic and realistic artistic tendencies, with the artists’ appeal to the people’s life and work activity of ordinary people, with the formulation of important social issues in art.
A genre artworks include: sculptures, paintings, graphic works depicting the work of everyday life, usually the lower social strata, customs, holidays. Figures are typified, transmitted anonymously. The household genre can be didactic, satirical, humorous, sentimental. The images of the dwellings were in ancient Egypt, in Antiquity (Greek vases, Roman reliefs, mosaics), in medieval art (sculptures, miniatures). The household genre began to develop during the mourning period of the Renaissance, became popular in the 19th century. – XX century pr in the creative work of various fields and groups (realism, naturalism, impressionism, family doctors). Lithuanian art appeared in the 18th century.
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.
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 term genre art is much used in the history and criticism of visual art, but in art history has meanings that overlap rather confusingly. Genre painting is a term for paintings where the main subject features human figures to whom no specific identity attaches – in other words, figures are not portraits, characters from a story, or allegorical personifications. These are distinguished from staffage: incidental figures in what is primarily a landscape or architectural painting. Genre painting may also be used as a wider term covering genre painting proper, and other specialized types of paintings such as still-life, landscapes, marine paintings and animal paintings.
The concept of the “hierarchy of genres” was a powerful one in artistic theory, especially between the 17th and 19th centuries. It was strongest in France, where it was associated with the Académie française which held a central role in academic art. The genres in hierarchical order are:
History painting, including narrative religious mythological and allegorical subjects
Genre painting or scenes of everyday life
Landscape (landscapists were the “common footmen in the Army of Art” according to the Dutch theorist Samuel van Hoogstraten) and cityscape
The genre of everyday life arose in the era of European antiquity. But long before Ancient Greece scenes of everyday life were reproduced in Africa and in ancient Egypt. Mural paintings in pharaoh’s funeral storerooms often have images of everyday scenes, occupying an additional, subordinate place after religious scenes. Already in the art of Ancient Egypt, everyday scenes are found in painting, sculpture, and even on the fragments of ceramic vessels, the surface of which the ancient Egyptian artists used to create sketches.
Workshops of Genre scenes were created by the artists of Ancient Greece in the vases. The genre was also developed in the then painting, but up to now our random samples have reached it. The wide use of vase-painting partially reflected the everyday scenes that were encountered in painting, and created his own samples (master Euphronius, pelican “Look, swallow!”, Hermitage, master Ekseky, “Dionysus on a pirate boat,” master Evfimid, “The warrior’s gatherings campaign “, Munich). Observation of the everyday life of contemporaries and courage in the reproduction of everyday scenes led to the extraordinary variety of scenes created by the vass painters – from the inspired singing of the actor in the role of Apollo to the erotic scenes and the unpleasant consequences of drunkenness at the recent party (Master Brig, Kilix, Wurzburg, University Museum).
The genre is also known in the art of the countries of the East. The first everyday sketches appeared in the painting of China from the 4th century. n. e., although they had an instructive, didactic character within religious and philosophical ideas. In the period of Tang (VII-X centuries AD), schools of Chinese genre painting were formed. There are also known artists of the genre (Yan Li-ban, Han Huang, Zhou Fan), although in their works prevailed Genre scenes of the imperial court. During the Song period (X-XIII centuries AD), Chinese genre painters (Li Tan, Su Han-chen) create scenes of folk life in paintings that are interesting for their humorous coloring or respectful attitude. About the same was the development of the genre of domestic painting in Japan and Korea, the art of which had a significant impact on China’s painting and its samples.
The everyday genre was also widespread in the art of the Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle Ages, which relied on a powerful local culture of peoples. First of all, it concerned Egypt, India and Persia (Iran). The masters of these countries decided to partially ignore the Muslim ban on the creation of figurative images.
Some of the medieval manuscripts of that time were decorated with miniatures, the artistic value of which was high. The Indian, Persian medieval miniature was also bold in the reproduction of both religious mythological and everyday scenes (miniatures for Shahnameh, Iskander and the Chinese emperor, the marriage of sons of Faridun to the daughters of Emen, miniatures for Avicenna treatises, miniatures for the manuscript by Alisher Navoi ” Wonders of Childhood “- the poet listens to musicians together with friends, miniatures to legends about Baidar with a musician, a miniature” Scientist at a lecture with pupils “from the manuscript” Makamat “of the 13th century). Artists draw not only scenes of court life, although often forced to work for the eastern tyrants.
In medieval Europe:
The genre of genre was gaining power in medieval Europe. His samples are found in miniatures, reliefs, and a few examples of painting (French miniatures with scenes of building Gothic cathedrals, stained glass, German reliefs in the cathedral of Naumburg, miniatures of the Limburg brothers, etc.).
The development of the genre art has been based on the factual authentication of everyday life from the inside meaning of the phenomena of daily life and the psychological discovery of public-historical content. Genre art are known from ancient times (primeval, hunting, oriental scenes), but as a special genre of art has been separated from the feudal era (Far East) and during the formation of the bourgeoisie society (Europe).
In the Middle Ages, genre scenes often intertwine with religious and allegorical compositions. In the 7th-13th centuries, schools of genre painting were formed and functioned in China.
With the onset of the Renaissance in Europe, first in Italy (Giotto, Lorentzetti – XIV century), and then in the Netherlands (Jan van Eyck, Boats, Gertgen the Sint Jans – XV century.) And other European countries, religious scenes in painting began to saturate bright Genre details. In the 15th century, images of labor folk life in miniature appeared (Limburg brothers in France), engraving (Schongauer in Germany), secular paintings (Cossa in Italy). In Italian painting of the 16th century, the everyday genre began to gradually separate from religious genres (Venetians – Carracci, Giorgione, Bassano).
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.
Five centuries of the famous development of culture and arts in Italy until the XVII century led to a stiff hierarchy of genres. The highest level was occupied by biblical and mythological pictures, the lowest and most prestigious – landscape and everyday genre. The Italians still perceived as their pictures of the Utrecht caravagists with scenes of small banquets with musicians and bought them (Gerrit van Hoonthorst, “Conversation with the minstrel”, the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, “The Concert”, the Borghese Gallery, Rome), while others cause unpleasant surprise and rejection. Even in the modern viewer the plots of masters of the Dutch genre of the XVII century. can cause boredom, and a smile, and surprise, and laughter.
Dutch golden age:
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.
Several circumstances contributed to this:
The spread in the country of Protestantism of various directions with the rejection of religious paintings
Weak positions of Catholicism in the country, the main customer of religious painting
Reducing orders for religious paintings of the Catholic pattern contributed to the development of other genres – (portrait, landscape and Genre painting).
The artists of Holland were not deterred by the low, monotonous landscapes of the country, the absence of the remains of antique buildings in it, nor the prestige of portraits of seamen and fishing boats, peasants and livestock or images of the drowsy life of small towns, uninhabited neighborhoods, quiet streets and lanes and littered corners of the courtyard. A number of Dutch masters turned to domestic genre – from highly gifted (Frans Huls, Jan Vermeer, Matthias Stom) to semi-professional, provincial and non-professional, who were not taken to art guilds and who were forbidden to sell pictures of their own production.
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.
French aristocrats often collect paintings not so much because of love of art, but because of fashion and prestige. In 1768, the former secretary of King Louis XV, de Genya, passed away, and his collections were auctioned off, where the excitement began. Denis Diderot writes excitedly about this: “He died, this amazing person who collected so many beautiful works in literature, with almost no inclination to read, so many works of art, understanding them as blind … It is impossible to lose a minute if we do not want collide with a crowd of domestic or foreign competitors. ” But there were real connoisseurs of art, courageous in search and little dependent on fashion, among whom was Pierre Crozet, who cared about the seriously ill Watteau, about Rosalbe Career, and bought a few artists who needed then the works of unfashionable artists.
The attitude to the domestic genre is gradually changing. And in the XVIII century appear as his supporters among artists, and the first significant collectors. The legislator in the modes and in art becomes France. Among French artists working in the domestic genre:
Depending on the giftedness and instructions that the artist adheres to, the everyday genre is interpreted as false-idealized and artificially cleansed (Francois Boucher), then somewhat fantastically and poetically (Antoine Watteau), then with a touch of instruction, didactics, sentimentalism (Jean Baptiste Gröze), then as scenes from reality (sketches of Fragonard). The genre of rococo elements (Antoine Watteau, Jacques de Lajoux, Francisco Goya) bring in the genre of everyday life, they turn to various techniques (oil paintings, pastels, drawings, porcelain, engraving). There is a reassessment of works and Dutch artists of the 17th century. And at the Paris auctions are unfolding real battles for the right to own pictures of masters of the domestic genre.
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, 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 Roseland focused 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.
Despite the monopoly of aristocrats for art, preserved in the XIX century, it is tirelessly democratized. But this democratization is of a somewhat different character than that of the Dutch in the 17th century, when they attracted prosaic, everyday and funny humorous situations (Jan Sten, Self-Portrait with His Wife under Hop, Karel Fabricius, Sleeping Guard). In the art of the XIX century. come out full-fledged heroes outcast, sick, abandoned beggars, cripples, slaves, prisoners or prisoners of war, people of the social bottom. They ignored them for centuries, they did not notice art. Prisoners and slaves came back in the art of baroque, but they are treated there as a decorative detail of the life of the monarch, a sign of his victories, military glory, ability to conquer.
In the paintings of masters of the XIX century. the dispossessed and the slaves lost their decorativeness, they suffer frankly, without hiding their confusion, pain and longing. Nothing decorative, poetry in the life of Dutch weavers, European and American fishermen, poor townspeople of Japan, in the life of peasants from the bear corners of France, Russia or Northern Italy of the 19th century. Unresolved social problems are exploding by an uprising, then by a national liberation war, by a revolution. A wave of the abolition of slavery and serfdom swept the world – but without significantly improving the plight of millions of people.
In the XIX century. the everyday genre is experiencing another flourishing in different countries, where the scenes of everyday life are depicted already in a highly realistic, extremely truthful way, with a greater or lesser share of ideological attitudes. Among the artists – supporters of the domestic genre:
A special place in the art of the XIX century. and the works of Frenchman Francois Millet, Italian Giovanni Segantini, Dutchman Vincent van Gogh, Winslow Homer (USA) took the Genre art. And without vague hints and dark symbols, the pictures of these masters become a symbol of the exhausting existence of the representatives of the people, of severe rural life in general, the true reproduction of which was rarely dared by the art of the entire 19th century because of the dominant positions of academism, salon art, because of the firm official support of the superficial bourgeois art.
The significant aggravation of social problems and contradictions in all spheres of life in the 20th century, wars, revolutions, social disengagement, national liberation movements, industrial and scientific revolutions, the explosive development of technology, urbanization-all this decisively changed the lives of millions of people, imparted impulsiveness to it, instability. Extremely increased lack of spirituality, confusion of people before the momentary changes, the danger from political regimes, the dehumanization of science, the uncertainty of their own future. He responded to these changes and the everyday genre, the artists of which undertook to analyze and explore all the nooks of personal and social life, his shortcomings, the sufferings of an ordinary person from the crowd, her loneliness, hopes, resistance, readiness to fight for the sake of protecting herself and children.
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.
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.