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In 1863 Castagnary was the first to use the term ‘Naturalism’. Zola would pick it up in 1865 (R3,p68). The terms Realism and Naturalism are used in an interchanging way (R3,p214;R170,p345;R172,p65). Others differ that in Naturalism there is an emphasis on a very detailed rendering of the observed reality (R170,p394). Others see the en-plein-air painting and the ‘paysage intime’ of the Barbizon painters as the first form of Naturalism (R172,p64). In Naturalism is a tendency toward the idyllic (R172,p66). It has no political message (R13,p598). In Naturalism the technique is used to render an illusory perfection (R13,p598).
1873/05 the art-critic Paul Alexis named the group around Monet, who was preparying an independant exhibition ‘naturalists’ having the ‘ambition of painting nature and life in their large reality’ (R2,p17). Art-critics more than once called the exhibited art-works at the ‘impressionist’ expostions naturalistic, even La bal du Moulin de la Galette of Renoir (3IE-1877-186). Goes to show how hard it is, to discern between Realism, Naturalism and Impressionism.



Naturalist artists:


Bastien-Lepage, Jules (1848-84):
Born 1848/11/01 in Damvillers (Mense). Started in 1867 his study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Pupil of Cabanel. Debut at the Salon of 1870. Received at the Salon of 1874 a 3rd class medal (Portrait of my grand father) and in 1875 a second class medal (first communion). Reached at the Prix de Rome in 1875 a second place. At the Exposition Universelle of 1878 he received a 3rd class medal. He was appointed in the Légion d’Honneur in 1879 as Chevalier. In 1883 he was awarded in the Belgium Orde of Leopold as Chevalier (knight). Bastien-Lepage died 1884/12/10.
He is mainly seen (1878 onwards) as Naturalist. He was influenced by Courbet and Millet. He was famous for his peasant scenes. His many portraits are painted quite expressive. His colours are consistently subdued, his brushstroke smooth and he rendered selective details.
Posthumous there had been an exhibition at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1885 March and April), an auction at Hôtel Drouot 1885/05/11+12 and works of him were shown at the Centennial Exhibition of the Exposition Unverselle in 1889.
Sources + more info + pictures: R3,p646+214; R13,p30; R337; iR3; iR6; iR7; aR1; .


Breton, Jules (1827-1906):
Breton received at the Salon a 2nd class medal in 1857 and a 1st class medal in 1859. At the Exposition Universelle of  1855 he received a 3rd class medal, in 1867 a 1st class medal and in 1889 he exhibited Hors Concours. In 1872 he received a Médaille d’Honneur. He was appointed in the Légion d’Honneur in 1861 as Chevalier, in 1867 as Officier and in 1889 as Commandeur. He was member of l’Institute since 1886.
1911/06/02 + 03: sale collection Jules Breton at Georges Petit gallery (PDF catalogue:; =iR19)
Sources + more info + pictures: R337;R231/iR40; iR3; iR6; iR23.


General sources:
My main sources are Walther (2013=R3), Monneret (1978-81=R88), the Exposition Universelles catalogues (R231), Explication des Salons (R337+R338), the Salon database (iR1), WikiPedia (iR3-5), WikiMedia (iR6), Joconde (iR23). See the link for other general References (=Rx) and to the internet references (=iRx). See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.

For further reading:

Additional sources (=aRx):

  1. (article on Jules Bastien-Lepage)
  2. (article on Jules Bastien-Lepage who was born in Damvillers)
  3. (article by José H. Mito on Jules Bastien-Lepage)
  4. x



Recommanded citation: “Para-Impressionism: Naturalism. Last modified 2023/10/01.