The essay "The Idea of Realism" will examine the idea of realism in the context of modern art. Realism is an artistic movement that was popular in France. In attempting to ‘accurately’ reflect life in all its objective detail, artists taking a Realist approach often worked to find the most ‘common’ people of the fields and villages and depicted them in their most humble and menial tasks. The ideas behind realism can be better understood by comparing the writing of two influential artists of the period, Gustave Courbet and Ferdnand Leger. Gustave Courbet held that “painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist in the representation of real and existing things”. The chief technical concern of Courbet seemed to be an abandonment, to some extent, of the ‘rules’ of art in favor of a more natural flow of line and form. By retaining these rough elements of the painting, Courbet felt he was more accurately representing the moment and the emotion of the moment during which the piece was created or the scene was witnessed. As he continued to attempt to portray the ‘real’ of life by focusing upon the humble peasantry, he began to identify himself more and more from their perspective. By 1850, his ideas regarding what was real were becoming more defined as he wrote to a friend, “… in our so very civilized society it is necessary for me to live the life of a savage. I must be free even of governments. The people have my sympathies, I must address myself to them directly”.