Days of Their Lives? Fact and Fiction in 19th-century Genre Painting and Works on Paper

Peasant Woman Raking by François Millet

December 13, 2011 – November 11, 2012
North Fairchild Gallery

The term “genre” (which literally means “type”) has come to signify one category of art: scenes of everyday life. This installation of paintings from the Mead’s collection focuses on American, British, and French genre paintings from the nineteenth century. Once castigated as ignoble because of its lower-class subject matter, genre painting came to be regarded as timely, imbued with feeling, and potentially heroic. Because genre paintings derived their subjects from everyday life but embellished them, they are perhaps best understood as imagined alternatives to the real conditions of industrialized capitalism, rather than as documents of lived existence.

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