Atahuallpa the imprisoned emperor of the Incas promised Pizarro and his conquistadors to fill the whole room with gold. An illustration for the book "The Men Who Found America" (1909) by the American artist Herbert Moore. The desperate emperor is here effectively confronted with the sinister, greedy Spanish. Interesting are also the symbolic colors: the golden light and the blood red trousers.
Pilgrims Going To Church (1867) by the Anglo-American painter George Henry Boughton (1834-1905). Boughton painted here the famous Pilgrim Fathers in their best clothes but also well armed indicating that they were well aware of living in a dangerous new world.
Victory of the Hansa fleet over the Danes in 1234 by the German marine painter Alexander Kircher (1867-1939). Kirchner was very popular for his patriotic paintings. Many were used to illustrade schoolbooks and town halls and offices of shipping companies.
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.