When I first saw this image on the National Gallery of Australia’s website, I wasn’t quite sure who, or what, I was seeing (fig. 1). What is the shadowy form lurking in the bottom-left-hand-corner of the image? Is it a person emerging out of the basement, a playful photographic superimposition, or something more banal: just another painting propped in the corner?
Realism is a famously tricky term. In literary studies it can denote a genre, an (anti-)aesthetic, a narrative mode, a philosophical literary attitude, or any combination thereof.