Pour le comité de l'exposition du musée O'Drsay( To the Exhibition committee of the museum O’Drsay), The later nineteenth century artist found an interest in the working class specifically observing the society and nature of the continued cycle of the working class. Realism was what artist wanted to depict by creating scenes of the lower class at work. I have chosen three powerful paintings which I am summiting for an exhibition. They are as follows; The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet, The Stone Breakers by Gustave Courbet and Third Class Carriage by Honoré Daumier. These works range from the unemployed, lower working class, and to the lower middle class.
The first of these paintings is The Stone Breakers by Gustave Courbet depicting a poor youth gathering the largest rocks he can carry and older man(possible his father) breaking the rocks into piles of gravel with a small hammer. Their clothes have numerous holes and are extremely worn through, the young boy with only one suspender. This was intense labor that took up most of the day, we even see their cooking supplies which leads us to believe they were not close to the amenities city workers had.
The second painting is The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet shows the unfortunate women bent over in order to pick up small strands of wheat grain by grain after the farmers have completed their days harvest. It took hours in this uncomfortable position to collect enough wheat to make a single loaf of bread. Allowing these gleaners to collect the remaining wheat was considered charitable although the work was very painful and couldn’t make enough to feed the family. This beautiful painting truly honors the unfortunate class by showing what they are able to accomplish as astonishing.
The third painting is Third Class Carriage by Honoré Daumier where lower class sits so close to the middle class yet cannot get out of the endless cycle of poverty. Daumier is deeply concerned in the underprivileged people. In this painting he particularly wants his audience to know the cycle will continue from the grandmother, mother and finally to the child. This is characteristic to Daumier’s work as the people are sort of character looking, yet it is as though you a in the scene with them. Yet it is still from his very personal feeling in the way he depicts them appearing soft and homey definitely contrasting the more middle class society behind them with their more straight lined features. He wanted to draw attention to this major aspect of life.
These three works although created by different people at different times in different places they all seem to paint a story of the struggles associated with the lower class. People with nothing but their families to help each other survive the ordeal of poverty and to make life endurable. Out of the many possible submissions to make these works have a powerful message, that there is a cycle that keeps the few wealthy and the many poor. With the exhibition of these great works I hope for their message to spread and the cycle dampened for a more equal quality of life.