In this article we propose an analysis of the attitude adopted by two Spanish realist artists of the nineteenth
century, the landscape painter Carlos de Haes and the novelist Benito Pérez Galdós, towards mimesis in their
writings on painting. Their opinions are related to texts by their predecessors and contemporaries as Constable, Alfred Michiels, Federico Madrazo, Baudelaire and Zola. In the 1860’ the academies of arts still clung to normative ideas on mimesis, inherited from the Neoplatonists of the Renaissance and favoured history painting. In his inaugural address for the members of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, Haes formulated a defence of painting the truth of nature, distancing himself prudently from mainstream
academicism and openly from the “mere copying” of nature he identified with photography. Later in the nineteenth century, Galdós adopted a decided position against history painting and in favour of the expression of modern life in art. Mimesis, the central concept in the relationship between art and reality in the West, was not equal to “mere copying,” on the contrary, for Galdós and Haes, the balance between an exact image of the surrounding visible world and the creation of beauty and poetry was a permanent concern.