I love the rabbit-holes that a little bit of image research can send you down. For example, I'm currently working on a new cover for Head of Zeus that calls for a spot of Russian realism; something I knew nothing about an hour ago. A few googles and clicks later, and I think I may have found a new favourite artist! The work of Ilya Repin (1844-1930) is absolutely captivating. His paintings are cinematic, suggesting the eye of Stanley Kubrick or David Lean. Details – a surgeon's raised hammer, a furtive glance at an unexpected guest – tell a bigger story surrounding the captured moment.
Here's a few (click images to embiggen). They're all amazing, but none have grabbed me quite like Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan (1885). Just look at the horror in that scene. Have you ever seen eyes more alive (or dead)? Incredible.