For Students K-12
This painting is taken from scenes Lieberman saw while he was in Holland in the summers of the 1870s. He created numerous sketches of people swimming while he was there, which he later used as a basis for his paintings. He took these sketches to his home in Paris and painted this large canvas. Why would this scene be difficult to paint outdoors with people posing?
Look at what the boys are doing. Describe their relationship to each other by the way they interact in this painting. Try to imagine what they may have been talking about in this scene.
The boys do not interact very much, and their isolated poses reveal Lieberman's use of sculptures as a source for the poses of each figure. He used famous sculptures made centuries prior to create this work, but it was a considered very innovative at the time it was made. Can you think of other instances where you have seen something fashionable or modern today that includes references to the past?
Using Linda Nochlin's definition of Realism (to give a truthful, objective and impartial representation of the real world, based on meticulous observation of contemporary life) and what you know about this painting, carefully examine it and decide what is it that makes this a Realist work. To what degree is it not a Realist work?