The Death of Gian Maria Visconti by the Italian painter Ludovico Pogliaghi (1857-1950). Pogliaghi depicted here an episode of the local history of Milan, where the young Duke was murdered in front of a church in 1412. The cruel intrigues and fights for power in Renaissance Italy are converted to a kind of romantic Romeo and Juliet scenery.
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.