Paintings of subjects from everyday life, usually small in scale

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Developed particularly in Holland in seventeenth century, most typically with scenes of peasant life or drinking in taverns. In Britain William Hogarth’s modern moral subjects were a special kind of genre, in their frankness and often biting social satire. Simpler genre painting emerged in later eighteenth century in for example George Morland, Henry Robert Morland and Francis Wheatley. Genre painting became hugely popular in the Victorian age following the success of the brilliantly skilled but deeply sentimental works of Sir David Wilkie.

Genre painting is one of the five genres, or types of painting, established in the seventeenth century, the others being: history painting; portrait painting; landscape painting; and still life.