Degas  - Laundry Maids
In painting as in literature, we have to ask about the importance of "Realism". A lot of the Big Boys worked in that mode, but why should we care about the appearance of some laundresses or some absinthe drinkers, or about "an idiot whose wife doesn't know what she wants" (Renoir on Madame Bovary: not an opinion to be dismissed lightly)?

I discovered the secret while thinking about a well known Degas showing a fattish woman in late middle age bathing in a tin tub. Very unromantic; very far from the ideal of feminine beauty. After you've studied that painting for a while, study the body of an ordinary woman in late middle age. You'll suddenly discover that she's very beautiful, and that you wouldn't have understood her beauty without the painting.

Does the principle work only for paintings, or for literature also? It seems to work for both. Realism works by heightening our awareness of the beauty in the everyday world.
Doesn't that make Realism a form of Romanticism?! Probably. Look at the whole life cycle of the Realists. A person can rarely escape the opinions of his youth, however much he thinks that he does.

Spaces, not commas, please!