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History Painting - A Most Famous Genre in Art Painting

Updated on August 7, 2013

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (1495-1498)
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (1495-1498) | Source

History Painting

History painting is a genre of paintings illustrating the historical and most important moments of mythological or historical events. It is more related to the accuracy of the event or the story than the artistic representation of the subject, which we can see in the most portrait paintings, where artist uses his own imagination to describe the scene. Most of the time, the pivotal point of the story is represented. Thus, painter gives a quick glimpse of the whole incident.

For instance, we can look at the famous painting called ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci. In this particular painting, da Vinci has portrayed the night before Jesus was going to be tormented and crucified by the Jewish. Jesus declared that night that one of his twelve disciples will betray him by tomorrow. The reaction of all twelve disciples including the betrayer, are accurately portrayed on the painting. By just a look at the painting, we can resemble the whole story of The Last Supper.

Hence, showing the most essential part of the historical event in artistic manner is the main aim of any history painter.

In late 18th and the full 19th century, history painting phenomena reached at its pinnacle. There was a slowly built attraction towards this style. Many famous history painters emerged in this era including Antoine Jean, Baron Gros, Ingres, Carle Vernet, Eugene Delacroix and Paul Delaroche. They all were counted as the experts in their field.

But as every phenomenon reaches it saturation point, the overwhelming commendation for history painting reached its own around late 19th century. It was replaced by new art movements of paintings like impressionism, symbolism and the most importantly the Modernism.

Though, even in modern history painting is considered as one of the most significant art-form in paintings. A new wave of fascination is building towards this style. By looking at its splendorous and rich oeuvre, in next generations, it will remain as a prominent part of paintings.


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