Priamus at the Feet of Achilles pleading for the Body of Hector (1876) by the French painter Joseph Wencker (1848-1919). Despite the story nowadays is mostly forgotten it was a very popular subject in the 18th and 19th century. The old king softening the heart of the harsh and bitter hero.
French retreat in 1812 by the Russian painter Illarion Mikhailovich Pryanishnikov (1840 –1894). Here some poor survivors of the once so proud "Grande Armée" are walked to prison by poorly armed Russian peasants.
Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi (1785) by the Swiss/Austrian painter Maria Anna Angelica Catharina Kauffmann. As a women Kauffmann painted here a female heroine, Cornelia who was considered responsible for the education of her sons who became later very important politicians.
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.