Columbus Landing by the
American painter John Vanderlyn (1775-1852). This painting was
commissioned by the Congress in June 1836 for the Capitol Rotunda.
Columbus was claimed as a forefather of the modern USA.
Esther Denouncing Haman
by the British painter Ernest Normand (1859-1923). This is an old
popular subject in religious art. But Normand painted it like a
history or orientalistic painting with the great theatrical gestures
which were popular.
Saint Nicholas of Myra
saves three innocents from death (1890) by the Russian realistic
painter Ilya Repin (1844-1930). Despite it's kind of a religious
painting Repic depicts it like a real history painting with the
crresponding costumes and arms.
Henri de La
Rochejacquelein at the Battle of Cholet in 1793 by the French painter
Paul-Emile Boutigny (1853-1929). It's a scene from the War in the
Vendée a popular Catholic and Royal uprising during the French
Richard I the Lionheart
(1841) by the French Neoclassical painter Merry-Joseph Blondel
(1781-1853). Blondel was a student of Jean-Baptiste Regnault and did
a whole series of famous crusaders such as Richard the Lionheart,
Raymond IV de Toulouse, Jean de Joinville and others for the Crusader
Gallery in the National Museum in Versailles.
Sir John Falstaff
Reviews His Ragged Regiment (1859) by the English artist Sir John
Gilbert (1817–1897). Falstaff in front of his infamous "shadows",
non-existent or disabled soldiers for whom the commanding officer
receives pay. Recruiting is here a business with the only purpose to
make money. In a very modern way Falstaff refers to his men: "Now,
now: they’re good enough to die. Cannon fodder, cannon
fodder—they’ll fill a mass grave as well as better men would."
The Capture of Malta in
1530 by Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Grand Master of the Order
of Knights Hospitaller, (1839) by the French painter René Théodore
Berthon (1776–1859). Despite of the name of the painting Malta
wasn't captured but given to Knights Hospitaller in by 1530 Emperor
Charles V after they lost Rhodes. So it's evidently a kind of heroic
The State Barge of
Cardinal Richelieu on the Rhone (1829) by the French history painter
Hippolyte Delaroche (1797-1856). The painting shows Richelieu his
barge, preceding the boat carrying Cinq-Mars and De Thou carried to
their execution. It's the heyday of Richelieu's power he defeated two
of his most powerful opponents, but he will die in the same year
(1642) and is already marked by death.
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.