Tsar Ivan IV Vasilyevich the Terrible conquers Kazan (1880) by the Russian painter Alexey Kivshenko (1851-1895). Kivshenko depicts here one of the great highlights of Russian history. The Russians now free from the Mongol yoke are now beating back and starting their own conquest. It's easy to imagine that this painting was very popular as illustration in schoolbooks and so on.
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.