Social realism

Following realism and in line with the philosophy and literature of naturalism, Belgian artists showed a greater sensitivity to social-historical reality than had previously been the case. Following the example set by Charles De Groux’s paintings of sordid reality, they set out to show the consequences of industrial upheaval in their work. They depicted working people as they laboured and in their daily lives. Their concerns were, however, primarily artistic in nature, a quest for artistic and human expression. In their individual styles, they each attempted to transcend the anecdotal as they sought to represent the lives of working people, both in terms of heroism and epic qualities as in terms of misery and resignation.