The Crossing Sweeper, 1858, by William Powell Frith
Wikimedia Commons

Genre painting refers to pictures that depict scenes of everyday life, portraying ordinary people engaged in their commonplace everyday activities. It developed particularly in Holland in the 17th century, mostly depicting scenes of peasant life or drinking in taverns, and became particularly popular in England during Victorian times.[1]

The term genre is also used in art to describe a hierarchy of pictures of descending importance, championed by the English painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792):[1][2]

  • History painting, depicting heroic figures from literature, mythology or biblical history, considered to be the highest form of art
  • Portraiture
  • Landscape
  • Genre
  • Still life