Realism was a primarily French movement in the 19th Century that was not so much a movement characterized by style but subject matter. The artists that made up the Realist movement, such as Corot and Millet, were rebelling against the Western traditions that maintained historical, mythological, and religious subjects. These artists depicted their subject matter in a realistic, un-idealized, and everyday manner.
This forward thinking movement was one of the first major advances towards Modern art. They were no longer looking back at past events as a source of inspiration. Their scenes of modern everyday life as inspired by their own observations and experiences did not settle well with the purists, but again was a dramatic shift in thinking that inevitably moved art forward.