Around the world in twenty artworks

updated 7/5/2021
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Venice, Antonio Canaletto

Canaletto is probably most known for his Venetian landscapes, or "vendutes", showing grand scenes in strong contrasts of light and shade. In the eighteenth century, aristocrats on the Grand Tour wanted to take back with them a memento and Canaletto excelled at capturing the cityscape – although not always faithfully.

Grand Canal, Venice, Italy © Apple Kullathida/Shutterstock

Manchester, L.S. Lowry

Between 1909 and 1948 Lowry’s home was in Pendlebury, just north of Manchester and it was this smoky and industrial place that sparked his lifelong interest in mills, collieries and canals. Famed for his seemingly simple depiction of Northern England’s industrial landscapes, Lowry is Manchester’s best loved artist. His cityscapes and street scenes were often an interpretation of what he saw as he paced the busy streets of his home, and his stylised figures bring alive the stark architecture.

© Tupungato/Shutterstock

Yorkshire, David Hockney

Born in Yorkshire in 1937, Hockney studied at the Bradford School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. He has travelled all over the world, but his beloved Yorkshire and the Wolds has inspired some of his most celebrated multi-canvas paintings. In Hockney’s words: “Look at the incredible variety of grasses, look at the marvellous leaves; look at the colour. Isn’t it beautiful… pure joy.”

Yorkshire landscape © albinoni/Shutterstock

Arles, Vincent Van Gogh

In 1888 Van Gogh had an incredibly productive stay in Arles, in the south of France, creating bold, evocative paintings of the Rhone at night. As an Impressionist, he used a certain amount of artistic license, but if you stand on the same east bank quay (near the site of the now demolished "Yellow House" he was lodging at), the wonderful view is easily recognisable.

© karp5/Shutterstock

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Grand Canyon, David Hockney

One of the world’s greatest living artists, Hockney developed a technique creating huge landscapes by fitting together smaller canvases. In the case of A Bigger Grand Canyon, it was 60 canvases inspired by earlier photographs that he had taken in 1982 and a road trip on the west coast of the US in the summer of 1997. Hockney somehow captures the immense feeling of vastness as you peer over the rim and his painting is as powerful and beautiful as the canyon itself.

Grand Canyon from Desert View Point, South Rim with the Colorado River, Arizona © Shutterstock

Yosemite National Park, Ansel Adams

Adams once said: "Sometimes I think I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter". Yosemite Valley is a landscape that cries out to be photographed, just seven miles long and less than one mile across, it’s walled by almost 1000-metre-tall near-vertical cliffs, streaked by tumbling waterfalls and topped by domes and pinnacles that form a jagged silhouette against the sky.

Sunrise on Half Dome in the Forest, Yosemite National Park, California © Stephen Moehle/Shutterstock

St Ives, Cornwall, Dame Barbara Hepworth

The renowned vibrant local arts scene has paved the way for dozens of galleries, the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. Hepworth is one of the foremost non-figurative sculptors of her time and her outdoor sculptures in bronze, stone and wood represent her interpretation of the beautiful coastal landscape and the movement of the sea in her cherished St Ives.

Barbara Hepworth's sculpture and garden in St Ives Cornwall © Padmayogini/Shutterstock

Australian outback, Sir Sidney Nolan

Although Nolan travelled the world during his lifetime, he was born in Melbourne and had a strong sense of Australian identity. Although his Ned Kelly paintings are iconic, a later body of work inspired by a trip through Central Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia truly represent his country’s majestic, other worldly landscape.

The Pinnacles of Nambung National Park, Western Australia © Jakub Michankow/Shutterstock

Machrihanish Bay, William McTaggart

This lovely three-mile stretch of sandy beach in Argyll, on Scotland’s west coast, is popular with surfers and beachcombers. Famous today for the eponymous golf course, in the late nineteenth century McTaggart was lured here by the exceptional translucency of the water; his paintings capture the beauty and the fluidity of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Empty beach at West Port, Kintyre Peninsula, Scotland © Shaun Barr/Shutterstock

Bristol, Banksy

Hidden around the vibrant city of Bristol is subversive and anti-establishment street art by anonymous (but world famous) graffiti artist Banksy. In the 1990s, the streets of his home city in the west of England were a breeding ground for urban culture; it was here that the artist developed his particular style of stencil art which, sometimes controversially, can now be seen in London, LA and New York.

Hotwells Bristol © ND Johnson/Shutterstock

North Wales, Innes, John, and Lees

Deep in the stunning Snowdonia National Park, Arenig Fawr is an imposing mountain much loved and painted by a group of three artists – James Innes, Derwent Lees and Augustus John – who formed the “Arenig School of painters”. Wandering the damp hills and dales of north Wales, searching for the perfect vantage point and the perfect light, proved to be too much for Innes who died of Tuberculosis at 27. Lees ended up in a lunatic asylum.

The mountains and lakes of Snowdonia National Park, looking from Mount Snowdon from the Llanberis Pass © Shutterstock

Margate, Kent, J.M.W. Turner

Turner once claimed that "…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe" and his landscapes and seascapes of the east Kent coast immortalised them in brilliant colour. He first went to Margate as a schoolboy and then regularly returned to sketch and paint throughout the 1830s and early 1840s. Today the elegant Turner Contemporary gallery exhibits art related to his work and legacy; the building designed by David Chipperfield has huge windows which flood light into the gallery and frame the famous seascapes.

© Abs_fotos/Shutterstock

Giverny, Claude Monet

At his home in Giverny, Monet created for himself an elaborate Japanese-style water garden, and it was here in the latter part of his life that he obsessively painted the water lily pond. This prolific artist is said to have created his art twice, because he meticulously designed the setting and inspiration for the paintings before laying down a single brushstroke on canvas. The house and garden and Giverny has been restored to its full glory and 500,000 people visit each year.

Giverny, Claude Monet garden, Normandy, France © andre quinou/Shutterstock

Dublin, Jack Butler Yeats

He and his brother William, who was to become Ireland’s most famous poet, spent a lot of their childhood with their maternal grandparents in Sligo. Jack and his wife moved from London to Dublin in 1910 and he began to paint urban and rural scenes influenced by French Impressionism and the Irish Nationalist cause. The Liffey is the lifeblood of the Irish city and some of his more famous paintings depict figures on the O’Connell Bridge and the Liffey Swim, an annual race still going today.

O'Connell Bridge in Dublin City, Ireland © David Soanes/Shutterstock

Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent Van Gogh

After his release from an asylum in Saint-Remy, Van Gogh moved here to be closer to his brother, a short train-ride away in Paris. In the last few months of his troubled life, before he died of a gunshot wound to the chest, he painted around 70 canvases in and around the charming village of Auvers-sur-Oise. One of his most admired and debated works is the intense and haunting Wheatfield with Crows, said to foreshadow his tragic suicide.

France, Auvers sur Oise, tomb of Van Gogh © Pack-Shot/Shutterstock

Rio de Janeiro, Roberto Burle Marx

One of the greatest landscape architects of the twentieth century, Brazilian Burle Marx had a huge creative output, including paintings, sculpture, set design and landscape design. His influence can be seen throughout the parks and museum grounds of Rio de Janeiro, and tourists are unlikely to miss his famous stylized wave mosaic running for two and a half miles alongside Copacabana beach.

View of Rio de Janeiro and Sugarloaf Mountain from Corcovado view point, Brazil © galaro/Shutterstock

London, Antonio Canaletto

Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, was born in Venice but lived and worked in London in the mid eighteenth century. He was drawn to the River Thames and the grand buildings and palaces along its banks, including St Paul’s Cathedral, which once dominated the skyline for miles around. Canaletto witnessed some huge changes to the great city of London, including the construction of Westminster Bridge.

London aerial view seen from London Eye, London © Shutterstock

Gateshead, Antony Gormley

The Angel of the North stands tall and proud, bearing witness to the end of the coal mining era, so integral to the history of this part of northern England. Gormley said of the piece (which is the same size as a jumbo jet): “The scale of the sculpture was essential given its site in a valley that is a mile and a half a mile wide, and with an audience that was travelling past on the motorway at an average of 60 miles an hour.”

Angel of the North aerial view Gateshead © Shutterstock

The Catskills, Thomas Cole

The founding member of the Hudson River School of Landscape Painters, Cole was born in England but emigrated to the US in 1818. His love for the great outdoors drew him to the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains in New York State; his studio and home here was declared a National Historic Site in 1999 and can be visited by guided tour.

Kaaterskill falls waterfall in the New York Catskill mountains © James Parascandola/Shutterstock

Rural Suffolk, John Constable

Local tours in “Constable Country” do a roaring trade in the countryside of Suffolk which inspired so many famous paintings. The River Stour meanders through the rural idyll of Dedham Vale, flowing past the hedges, churches and bridges of the quintessentially English childhood home of Constable. He once wrote to a friend “I should paint my own places best ... painting is but another word for feeling” and this green and pleasant land is what meant most to him.

Small Cottage in the Suffolk Countryside, Rural England © Andon Simonyan/Shutterstock

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updated 7/5/2021
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