History Painting

History Painting

History painting is a genre of painting characterised by its subject matter rather than a particular artistic style or era.

The term 'history painting' was coined by the French Royal Academy in the 17th century. It was regarded as the most significant genre of painting, surpassing portraiture, scenes from daily life (genre painting), landscape, and still life painting.

Initially, it referred to paintings featuring subjects from ancient Greek and Roman history, classical mythology, and the Bible. However, by the late 18th century, history painting expanded to include modern historical themes, such as battle scenes depicted by artists like Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley.

The preferred style for history painting was classical and idealised, referred to as the 'grand style,' and it was collectively known as High Art.

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Parra's studio, with Parra at the centre, his back to the camera as he works on the large painting takes centre stage, showing a faceless blue woman in a striped dress, painted in red, purple, blue and teal. The studio is full of brightly coloured paints, with a large window on the right and a patterned rug across the floor under the painting.