Napoleons Farewell To
Josephine by the British painter Laslett John Pott (1837-1898).
Normally Pott was more specialized in military scenes but here he
depicted the great hero on a romantic battlefield.
Cleopatra as a kind of
pin-up by the American artist Victor Tchetchet (1891-1974). Tchetchet
was a famous pin-up calendar and cover artist working for magazines
like American Weekly, Liberty, Master Detective, Photoplay.
The death of Simon de
Montort by the French artist Alphonse de Neuville (1835-1885). This
book illustration was done for Guizot's History of France. Simon de
Montort was the cruel leader in the Albigensian Crusade or Cathar
Crusade (1209–1229) an was killed during the siege of Toulouse on
25 June 1218 smashed by a stone from a mangonel, operated by the
women of Toulouse.
The Second Battle of
Guararapes by the Brazilian painter Victor Meirelles (1832-1903).
The Second Battle of Guararapes was the second and decisive battle in
the war between the Dutch West India Company and Portuguese forces in
1649, ending the Dutch occupation of the Portuguese colony of Brazil.
Andreas Hofer after his
victory of Bergisel (1900) by the Austrian artist Franz von Defregger
(1835-1921). Defregger depicts here members the Tirolean militias in
their uprising against the Napoleonic oppression. It's the people in
arms, very popular at the eve of World War I.
Isabelle and Orleans
(1938) by the great Australian artist Norman Lindsay (1879-1969). The
French Princess Isabella of Valois (1387-1410) was the daughter of
King Charles VI. Her childhood marriage at the age of eight to
Richard II of England sought peace between the two counties.
Following Richard's grisly murder, Henry IV tried to marry her off to
his son, the future Henry V of Agincourt fame. Isabella refused and
eventually returned to France, where she married Charles, Duke of
Orléans at Compiègne in 1406. The marriage, however, was brief,
Isabella dying in her early twenties giving birth to their daughter,
The Massacre of the
Abencerrages (1874) by the French painter Georges Jules Victor
Clairin (1843-1919). The cruel subject is taken from Chateaubriand's
Aventures du dernier Abencérage (1826)i.e. Boabdil, the last king of
Granada. Boabdil lured the rival tribe of the Abencerrages in the
Alhambra, where all were slaughtered. The legend says that the
fountain flowed not with water but with blood.
After the battle of
Fýrisvellir (1888) by the Swedish painter Mårten Eskil Winge
(1825-1896). In the battle of Fýrisvellir the Swedes repelled an
army of Nordic invaders. Though it's a great nation victory it's
interesting that Winge didn't paint the great heroic deeds but the
contemplative moments after the battle
History painting dates back to the Renaissance and was long considered to be the "grand genre". Nevertheless it has its peak in the 19th century forged by Neoclassicism and Romanticism. There it became the artistic contribution in the process of the construction of National Identities of the European and American nations.
At the same time history painting under the influence of historism pretended to be "realistic", to show history how it has been. Above all it was this pretension that led to the great failure of History painting AND Realism at the end of the century.
When artists and their public realized that telling history always will be subjective and a painting will always be an illusion Realism and history painting lost their ground to modern painting.