Breaking with the past
Russia certainly was not the only country with a feudal system in 19th century Europe. It is not a coincidence that a critical realist current in art emerged in mid 19th century in France also. Like Russian realists after the abolishment of serfdom in 1861, French artists sympathised with the so-called 'lower' classes after their 1848 revolution and the abolishment of slavery in French colonies a year later. This can be demonstrated in Gustave Courbet's famous painting of the 'Stone Breakers' (1849) and Francois Miller's 'Sower' (1950).