Balzac was born on May 20, 1799 at Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France into a well-to-do bourgeois family. He died in Paris on August 18, 1850. He studied jurisprudence, or the theory of law, but switched to journalism in his early career. He was thought to be the founder of realism. At the time of his writing, romanticism and artists such as Eugene Delacroix and Alexandre Dumas enjoyed immense popularity but in his work, often criticized as vulgar and banal by contemporaries, he wrote about the lives of French urban working class in an unsentimental manner, symbol of realism and in sheer contrast with popular romanticism ("Honore de Balzac").
La comedie humaine (the Human Comedy) was his most well-known achievement. A collection of novels and novellas written by Balzac, it mostly realized his aim to reflect all aspects of life of contemporary France. In novels such as Pere Goriot, de Balzac used minute details to create characters; the wide range of characters recurring in different stories was also a technique Balzac developed so that the reader can form complete pictures based upon multiple stories on one character. This is a realist approach, as in real life the characteristics of people are built and observed via a series of actions and stories (the Editors).
Balzac's realism since then started a new era of literary and artistic creations. Artists like Jean-Francois Millet (the Gleaners; above) and many others started to portray life at the time as it is without subjective emotions. More attention was given to the working/lower class and their sufferings, and the world art moved on to a new chapter.
Works cited page
"Honore de Balzac." New World Encyclopedia, . 16 Aug 2016, 16:03 UTC. 30 Jan 2017, 02:12 <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Honore_de_Balzac&oldid=998610>.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. "Honore De Balzac." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 07 Aug. 2007. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.