If you can’t bear to look at yet another Instagram post of your peers sunning themselves in a distant hotspot, then why not indulge in an artistic alternative?
Artists from all around the world, and those who have travelled to see it, have produced plentiful stunning works capturing the beauty of most corners of the planet.
Venice: The Doge’s Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni, Canaletto, late 1730s, National Gallery
Let’s start in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There’s nothing quite like pulling up in your gondola outside the Doge’s palace, and architectural aficionado Canaletto perfectly captures the unique working life of Venice’s floating infrastructure alongside the decorative beauty of its buildings.
Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood, John Singer Sargent, 1885, Tate Britain
In this scene, two painters from either side of the channel meet in the French countryside, both looking to put it down in paint. British artist John Singer Sargent points his canvas towards Impressionist master Claude Monet, while they paint with Monet’s wife in the fields of Giverny near Paris.
Bathers at Asnieres, Georges Seurat, 1884, National Gallery
Heading into the French capital, Georges Seurat captures a sunny scene on the banks of the Seine, where Parisian workmen are taking a dip to cool off on a warm day. This painting measures 3 metres wide, but is made up of many thousands of tiny dots of colour.
The Great Wave, Katsushika Hokusai, 1831, British Museum
If you want to travel the world, you’re going to need to cross a couple of seas. This celebrated work by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai depicts a powerful wave rising up in front of the viewer, so large that it seems to dwarf Mount Fuji in the background. The work is one of 36 views of the mountain made by Hokusai, exploring its beauty and diverse surroundings.
New York, New York, Stephen Shore, 1972, Tate Modern
Heading over the Atlantic ocean, you’ll hit the bright lights of the Big Apple. Photographer Stephen Shore frequently made his work as part of road trips across America, taking snapshots of the uncelebrated parts and characters of the country. This image captures the city of New York as it was in 1972.
Los Moscos, Mark Bradford, 2004, Tate Modern
From east coast to west coast, this work by Mark Bradford doesn’t just depict the city of Los Angeles, but is made of it. The collage is made from materials found by the artist on the streets of his hometown, which the artist lets “act as memory of things pasted and things past.”
A View of Het Steen, Peter Paul Rubens, 1636, National Gallery
Rubens captured this scene from his newly acquired patch of land in Malines, near Antwerp in the Netherlands. It shows the morning breaking over lush fields, just touching on Rubens’ manor house – the Het Steen of the title – as well as a horse and cart, and a huntsman and his dog.
Matthew Ridley Corbet, Val d’Arno: Evening, 1901, Tate
Corbet may have been born in Lincolnshire, but he spent three years studying in Italy, and it was that idyllic destination that inspired this painting. The flat, wide composition focuses attention onto the fall of warm, dusk light over the elegant Italian countryside.
Bingzhen Jiao and Guancheng Fang, Fan, 1721-25, V&A Museum
Looking for holiday inspiration and a way to keep cool? This is the painting that can do both. This fan has been decorated by Chinese painter Bingzhen Jiao and calligrapher Guancheng Fang, and is typical of a gift given among aristocratic society. It depicts a rolling landscape, populated by winding trees and two conversing figures.
Lake Keitele, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, 1905, National Gallery
For all those who’ve had quite enough of summer in the city, dive into this stunning painting by Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela. The shimmering body of water is Lake Keitele, a colossal lake just north of Helsinki. Through the beautifully observed reflection, Gallen Kallela makes this work about the lake’s surroundings as much as he does the lake itself.
Te Rerioa, Paul Gauguin, 1897, Courtauld Gallery
Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, but is famed for his journeys and ultimate relocation to French Polynesia in the South Pacific. This painting was made on the island of Tahiti and shows the two subjects Gauguin liked to paint the most – the island and its people, bathed in the yellow, shadow-casting light.
Tomb Near Old Helwan, 1900, Frederick Forbes Ogilvie, V&A Museum
If you think London’s too hot this summer, spare a thought for the figure in this painting. Under the baking Egyptian sun, a man takes shelter from the desert heat in the only patch of shadow for quite a walk, which he finds beside an old tomb.
Surprised!, Henri Rousseau, 1891, National Gallery
Under the cover of a heavy storm, a tiger creeps through the jungle, wild-eyed. Rousseau claimed the scene was inspired by his travels in Mexico, but there’s it’s quite possible he never even went there – the landscape is more likely to be based on the Paris botanical gardens. So we’re not quite sure where this is, but it certainly makes us want to see the world.
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