The desire of the Realists to portray things as they really appear was the premise for much of the artistic activity during the second half of the nineteenth century. The Realists express both a taste for democracy and rejection of the inherent sentimentality of the Romantics. Inspired by the works of Rembrandt, Hals, and the other Dutch masters, the Realists felt that painters should work from the life round them. Unflaggingly honest, the Realists violated rules of artistic propriety with their unconventional portrayals of modern life.
Courbet, the movement leader attempted to transmit "ideas, customs and aspects" of his time.