Realism is a pragmatic approach to art in which subjects are presented in as straightforward a manner as possible, without idealizing them and without following rules of the formalist theories.
History of Realism
The earliest instances of Realism began to appear in the 18th century. These Paintings can be seen as a reaction to the excesses of Romanticism and Neoclassicism. John Singleton Copley's paintings are quintessential Realist Paintings; some of Goya’s works too follows the Realist theory. But the great Realist era was the middle of the 19th century, as artists became disillusioned with the artifice of the Salons and the influence of the Academies.
Realism as a Painting Style
Realism in art,as stated before, is the depiction of subjects as they appear in everyday life, with minimal ornamentation or the hindarance of interpretation. Realist Paintings didn’t stop at anything in revealing a truth, many paintings of this style emphasize the sordid or ugly
Singleton Copley's paintings
Singleton Copley’s portraits were innovative in that they tended to portray their subjects with artifacts that were indicative of their lives. His intention was to project peiople as they were and not to interpret them in some hallowed light.
The subversive element in his art, as well as his bold handling of paint provided a model for the work of later generations of artists. Some of his works were shockingly realistic depicting naked pain and suffering with an unflinching attitude.