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The historical genre in visual art suggests depicting scenes from the past and the present, which do not have to be historically accurate. Events and characters created by the artists of the historical genre may well exist only in their imagination, or their images can be inspired by folklore. After all, mythological, religious and fantasy heroes and themes also belong to this genre.

Artworks of the historical genre include paintings, sculptures, drawings, murals, relief sculpture, miniatures of relevant content. They can depict events or characters, which are of historical importance for a community, city, region, country, and all humanity.

The historical genre stems from the art of ancient Egypt. One of the first artworks in the historical genre was the stone palette of Pharaoh Narmer, which dates back to the IV thousand BC. It depicts scenes of the victory of Upper Egypt over Lower Egypt.

It was a memorable historical event for ancient Egyptians, which gave rise to the development of the ancient Egyptian state.

Among the survived reliefs and frescoes of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and India there are artworks in this genre. Its later examples are among the artworks of the monumental art of Greece and Rome, Byzantine and Western European miniatures, paintings and frescoes of the Renaissance.

However, as a separate genre of painting, the historical genre appeared in the XVIII-XIX centuries. Artists began to depict life and customs of their ancestors.

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Renaissance artists Andrea Mantegna and Piero della Francesca created history paintings, referring to the era of antiquity, in which they saw role models both for themselves in art and for society in terms of heroic ideals.

In the XVII-XVIII centuries, in the era of academicism and classicism in painting, historical genre was considered an elevated genre. Artists preferred subjects referring to mythology, antiquity, and idealized past. Historical and mythological subjects are characteristic of the artworks of the French artist Nicolas Poussin. Charles Le Brun, who worked at the royal court In France, created a series of history paintings on the life of Alexander the Great.

The famous painter Diego Velasquez, who got inspired by the ancient mythology, worked at the Spanish court. In the second half of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the themes of ancient mythology and history were reflected in the artworks of the French artist Jacques-Louis David.

One of the most famous history paintings is Liberty Leading the People created by Eugene Delacroix in the first half of the 19th century. The historical genre of that era became strongly influenced by romanticism. Later, in the era of modernity, depicting the past was as popular among artists.

Artworks in the historical genre include: the relief on the Arch of Titus created in 81 in Rome, which perpetuated the military victories of the Roman Empire; Trajan’s Column, erected at the beginning of the 2nd century in the same city; the Bayeux Tapestry, an embroidered carpet of the end of the 11th century, which depicts the Norman conquest of England; a 6th century Byzantine mosaic in the Basilica of San Vitale (Ravenna) depicting Emperor Justinian with a suite; and 15th century medieval miniatures in the Jena Codex, depicting the national heroes of the Czech Republic.

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The main motif of history painting is to remind people of historical events by conveying their spirit, celebrating them, or even creating a historical myth.

Often, such artworks have been used for propaganda and patriotic education, and therefore they are eagerly ordered by government officials. In the twentieth century historical genre in art was given an important agitation role in authoritarian and totalitarian countries.

Modern artists also create historical artworks. You can buy a history painting on the website of the Jose Art Gallery.

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