A genre of painting that was influential from the mid-15th century through the 19th century. A history painting was generally understood to depict an important event or action involving several people. These events could be historical, religious, mythical, or the stuff of fable. History painting was long considered to be the highest (and most challenging) genre of painting, due to its connection to powerful subject matter and its ability to educate the public in lofty themes and virtues. Before the 19th century, history painting was subject to certain requirements—as elucidated by Joshua Reynolds, among others. While history painting’s popularity has waned, some modern and contemporary artists still engage with the genre, often attempting to update or revise its themes and styles.