SPANISH SOCIAL REALISM -The Most Provocative & Political Paintings of the 19th & 20th Centuries - tba

THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY CLASS where we meet some of Spain's most brilliant academic realists, who transformed the political and social problems of modernisation into cultivated images with the dimensions and rhetoric of epic history paintings.


The intellectual artists of the Industrial Revolution leave Romantic historicism behind to create visually sumptuous and awe-inspiring paintings that are also politically astute and clever in their subject. 

Through these artists and their ability to realistically depict the current social problems of the era, we can get a good look at Spain's problems with modernisation, the bourgeoisie and the working class or proletariat.

We are shocked by the incredible level of social injustice and the struggles of the working class who were exploited for their labour without any justifiable fiscal or material compensation. 

These paintings are thought-provoking, not only about Spanish culture and society, but about the whole of humanity, which is heading for great unhappiness and misery in a new social order.

“There are only three ways out of the economic prison of civilized countries, two of them illusory and the third real: the brothel and the church, the debauchery of the body and the debauchery of the soul; the third is the social revolution ” (Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was a Russian revolutionary anarchist, socialist and founder of collectivist anarchism.)

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Spain experienced great changes in its culture and society. in 1891, Pope Leo XIII published the Catholic "Rerum Novarum", his first doctrine, which addressed the most pressing problems of the time, including the ills and problems created by the Industrial Revolution and capitalism, and the illusions of socialism. He emphasised the right of the Church to speak out on social issues as they concerned moral questions.

He stressed "the misery and hardship that weigh so unjustly on the majority of the working class" and condemned the abuses of the bourgeoisie, especially the greed of the capitalist class. At the same time, he vigorously criticised the illusions of socialism, especially on the grounds that private property was a natural right essential to the pursuit of individual freedom 

The social thinking of Leo XIII helped to link the Church with the modern struggle for social justice and to inspire Catholics to concrete social action.

The country was shaken by the loss of its last colonies in America. The Treaty of Paris of 10 December 1898 forced Spain to grant independence to Cuba and cede Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam to the United States. Spain's defeat by the United States and the loss of its colonial possessions dealt a heavy blow to the crisis-ridden country.

The intellectuals of the so-called Generation of '98 dubbed the events the "Catastrophe of '98'  and tried to find an answer to what they called "Spain's problem". They delved into the country's deep economic, social and political crisis and looked for new ways to reinvent and modernise Spain 

Thus began a period of drastic reforms that divided the country. The transition from monarchy to republic, with the development of a new, free and secular education system and the implementation of numerous legal and social reforms, was a rollercoaster of emotions 

All these changes, reflections and reforms led the country into a period of turmoil and unrest. It became important for intellectuals and artists to try to break away from the past and build pillars for a future. This was not an easy task and new ideas were often confronted and challenged, deeply influencing the works of writers, philosophers, artists and painters of the time.

Resource Books written by
Karla Ingleton Darocas 
and published by