The interest for their barbarian past awakend relatively late in the europeans. First artists were interested in greeks and romans. And when they painted barbarians, they painted them like romans in costumes.
But at the end of the 19th century there were a raising interest in nordic and celtic warriors.
Here two examples.
The first is by the british painter Edward Matthew Hale (1852-1924) and is called "After the Raid" (1892). It shows viking raiders with their human booty.
The second is by the french painterEvariste Vital Luminais (1821-1896) and is called "Norman Pirates" (1897). The subject is similar.
Shure that the vikings were interested in beautiful women and rape was a common practice. But we dont think that the booty were always naked. This is without question a concession to the art market of the 19th century (more about nude-painting in that time).
The naked booty is for the art-buyer not for the viking!!
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.