Now, if I were going to pick a singl favourite, it would certainly be the stunning master Ilya Repin (1844 - 1930). His paintings live inside me, and his technique is unparalleled, while at the same time existing mainly to create the story on his canvas. The next three are the ones I present here. Together they're a juggernaut of imagination, with differing artistic temperaments, but aesthetically connected (in my fevered mind, anyway) by more than simply their first names. Historical themes are their bread and butter, along with the orientalist paintings that ruled their era.
If you enjoy their work, please consider researching their histories; fascinating fellows, all.