History painting is a genre in painting defined by its subject matter rather than any artistic style or specific period. History paintings depict a moment in a narrative story, most often (but not exclusively) Greek and Roman mythology and Bible stories, opposed to a specific and static subject, as in portrait, still life, and landscape painting. The term is derived from the wider senses of the word historia in Latin and histoire in French, meaning "story" or "narrative", and essentially means "story painting". Most history paintings are not of scenes from history, especially paintings from before about 1850.
In modern English, "historical painting" is sometimes used to describe the painting of scenes from history in its narrower sense, especially for 19th-century art, excluding religious, mythological, and allegorical subjects, which are included in the broader term "history painting", and before the 19th century were the most common subjects for history paintings.