Refers to any realist painting that also carries a clearly discernible social or political comment

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  • William Holman Hunt, 'The Awakening Conscience' 1853

    William Holman Hunt
    The Awakening Conscience 1853
    Oil on canvas
    support: 762 x 559 mm frame: 1060 x 857 x 97 mm
    Presented by Sir Colin and Lady Anderson through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1976

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  • Sir Luke Fildes, 'The Doctor' exhibited 1891

    Sir Luke Fildes
    The Doctor exhibited 1891
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1664 x 2419 mm frame: 2075 x 2875 x 210 mm
    Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

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  • Augustus Leopold Egg, 'Past and Present, No. 3' 1858

    Augustus Leopold Egg
    Past and Present, No. 3 1858
    Oil on canvas
    support: 635 x 762 mm frame: 781 x 925 x 90 mm
    Presented by Sir Alec and Lady Martin in memory of their daughter Nora 1918

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In Britain examples of social realism can be found in the eighteenth century, for example in the work of William Hogarth, but it became particularly widespread in the nineteenth century. Important contributions to social realism were made by the Pre-Raphaelites, and by the more serious-minded genre painters such as Augustus Egg, William Powell Frith, Luke Fildes and Frank Holl.

Social realism should not be confused with socialist realism.