Painters have always been fascinated by travels, in all aspects of the word. This 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. Travelling is a process involving planning, the movement of yourself from one place to another, and it includes being there – at your destination. Travelling is also a state of mind, and it may even have a purpose.
The paintings included in this article are not necessarily among the world’s greatest masterpieces, but some are. The selected images are all clickable, so click and fill your screen with a larger version if you like.
The first painting 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.
“Planning the Grand Tour”, by Emil Brack (Late 19th century painting of an early 19th scene)
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.
“The Interrupted Pilgrimage (The Sick Pilgrim)”, by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 1858 (Wikimedia)
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.
“Pilgrimage to the Cave Shrine of Benzaiten”, by Utagawa Hiroshige, circa 1850 (Wikimedia)
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.
“Change of horses at an Italian post station”, by Heinrich Bürkel (1802-1869)
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.
“The Storm on the Sea of Galilee”, by Rembrandt, 1633 (Wikimedia)
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.
“Engländer in der Campagna”, by Carl Spitzweg, circa 1845
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.
“Orientalische Landschaft mit Kameltreibern und Viehhirten”, by Nicolaes Berchem (17th century)
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.
“Leiv Eiriksson discovers America”, by Christian Krohg, 1893 (Wikimedia)
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.
“Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way”, by Emanuel Leutze, 1861 (Wikimedia)
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.
“The Fighting Téméraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken”, by J.M.W. Turner, 1839 (Wikimedia)
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 Travelling Companions”, by Augustus Leopold Egg, 19th century
The next carriage is presumably a train carriage, and this is the third class section.
“The Third-Class Carriage”, by Honoré Daumier, 1862-64 (Wikimedia)
In the following painting, the carriages are placed on top of camels. This is a camel caravan with the carrying protective spears.
Camel Train in the Desert’ by Charles-Théodore Frère, 1855 (Wikimedia)
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. 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.)