Naturalism was a broad movement in the nineteenth century which represented things closer to the way we see them

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  • John Constable, 'Flatford Mill ('Scene on a Navigable River')' 1816-17
    John Constable
    Flatford Mill ('Scene on a Navigable River') 1816-17
    Oil on canvas
    Bequeathed by Miss Isabel Constable as the gift of Maria Louisa, Isabel and Lionel Bicknell Constable 1888
  • Sir George Clausen, 'A Frosty March Morning' 1904
    Sir George Clausen
    A Frosty March Morning 1904
    Oil on canvas
    support: 635 x 762 mm
    frame: 774 x 901 x 68 mm
    Presented by C.N. Luxmoore 1929© Tate
  • Benjamin Williams Leader, 'The Valley of the Llugwy' 1883
    Benjamin Williams Leader
    The Valley of the Llugwy 1883
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1194 x 2007 mm
    Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

Until the early nineteenth century both landscape and the human figure in art tended to be idealised or stylised according to conventions derived from the classical tradition. In the nineteenth century there was a trend towards representing things in a more realistic way. In Britain this was pioneered by John Constable who famously said ‘there is room enough for a natural painture’ (type of painting).

Naturalism became one of the major trends of the century and, combined with realism of the subject, led to impressionism and modern art. Naturalism is often associated with plein air practice (painting landscapes and other scenes from life out-of-doors).