Painters have always been fascinated by travels, in all aspects of the word. This article on paintings about travelling is a look into their world and how they imagined travel would be like, or how they themselves experienced it.
Travelling stimulates our imagination and our dreams and desires. It is also a process involving planning, the movement of yourself from one place to another, and it includes being there – at your destination. Travelling is in addition a state of mind, and it may even have a purpose.
The paintings about travelling included in this article are not necessarily among the world’s greatest masterpieces, but some are.
The first of the paintings about travelling depicts a young couple planning their Grand Tour, with a map of Italy on the table. The Grand Tour was the cultural “pilgrimage” by the rich nobility of Northern Europe to key destinations in Southern Europe, primarily in Italy.
Pilgrimages of another, more authentic kind, have always triggered travels. This group has made an involuntary stop on their route, because one in the group has fallen ill.
There is too much emphasis on European paintings in my collection, but here is a pilgrimage in Japan from the same time period as the one above.
Back in Europe
There are many paintings by artists visiting, in their eyes, unfamiliar places. I have been more interested in picking the paintings that indicate movement. Here is one, by a German painter.
European fine art was for centuries solely concentrated on religious art. After the Renaissance there was a change, but even then the great masters sought Biblical inspiration. Rembrandt is one of the most famous and important painters of all time. This masterpiece depicts a voyage, or rather fishing trip, on the Sea of Galilee.
We are now back on the Grand Tour. A group of English tourists are visiting Roman ruins, and they seem to have a tour guide with them in addition to a guidebook.
The Middle East
We are moving east, to the Middle East at least. Here is a group of camels and sheep being herded to a well for a rest.
Back in time
The presentation of artwork in this article is random. We are now moving fast back in time, to around the year 1000 AD. That was when Leiv Eiriksson set sail westwards from Greenland and discovered America, or “Vinland” as the Vikings called it.
Travels has always involved discoveries, expeditions, conquests and even migrations. The essence of building America is about going West, seize new land and develop it. That is the essence of this painting.
Returning home may not be a positive sentiment. In the case of the following painting, it is a ship that is returning home. For the last time. It may be viewed as an allegory.
Means of transportation
Ships are not the only means of transportation. There are many who travel on wheels and in carriages. Here at two paintings of that kind. The first is an amazing piece of art. Click to expand and have a look through the window at the possible destination of these two women.
The above painting looks at first glance as if it has a fine symmetry. However, notice the differences in behaviour, activity, what is next to the young woman. Also, notice their lack of interest in the beautiful view outside – possibly the French Riviera.
The next carriage is presumably a train carriage, and this is the third class section.
In the following painting, the carriages are placed on top of camels. This is a camel caravan with the carrying protective spears.
Not all artists are painters, some are actors or create motion pictures. Have a look at my first entry about Great Travel Movies.
And that is basically it about paintings about travelling. I may well continue my search and extend this article, or return with another. I hope you have liked it.
One suggestion at the end: There is a set of artwork on the Google Arts & Culture called “Sandalsand’s Artwork About Travelling“. (By the mid of 2016 this link seems to have ceased to work. It seems like Google is experimenting with how their service should work. For the time being I will keep the link, because the collection is still there.)
There is also a follow-up article you might want to read: More paintings about travelling.