Esther Denouncing Haman
by the British painter Ernest Normand (1859-1923). This is an old
popular subject in religious art. But Normand painted it like a
history or orientalistic painting with the great theatrical gestures
which were popular.
Saint Nicholas of Myra
saves three innocents from death (1890) by the Russian realistic
painter Ilya Repin (1844-1930). Despite it's kind of a religious
painting Repic depicts it like a real history painting with the
crresponding costumes and arms.
Henri de La
Rochejacquelein at the Battle of Cholet in 1793 by the French painter
Paul-Emile Boutigny (1853-1929). It's a scene from the War in the
Vendée a popular Catholic and Royal uprising during the French
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.