Iconic Paintings and Their Real-Life Destinations You Can Actually Visit

Claude Monet's 'Water Lilies.'
'Water Lilies' by Claude Monet, 1919. (Image: Public Domain)

Art and real life are closely intertwined, with artists finding inspiration for their creations in everything around them, including places and their surroundings. Whether it be a building in their hometown or a picturesque view, artists forever immortalize these locations on their canvas, adding their style, interpretation, and imagination.

Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Andrew Wyeth are just some world-famous artists with prominent paintings of places, but what makes these paintings even more interesting is that the destinations that inspired the pieces can be visited in real life!

If you’ve ever wanted to dive into artwork, you can travel to the locations in the following iconic paintings.

The ‘Water Lilies’ painting series by Claude Monet

French impressionist painter Claude Monet is known for his masterful ways of portraying light and atmosphere in his works. His Water Lilies series, which showcases a Japanese water lily pond, is one of his most famous paintings, which he created based on his house garden in Giverny, France, which he landscaped and designed himself. 

This location, which is preserved and now known as the Fondation Claude Monet, is open for visits and tours. This is where Monet lived and painted for many years, continuing to paint his gardens and backyard even when his eyesight was deteriorating.

‘Café Terrace at Night’ by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most prominent painters, known for his charming brushwork and his iconic use of warm yellows, captivating blues, and bright colors. His 1988 creation titled Café Terrace at Night is the first of his many masterpieces that capture the night sky in his style, and it is based on the café terrace at The Place du Forum in Arles, France.

The iconic terrace still stands in the Place du Forum in Arles, is renamed Le Café La Nuit (The Night Café), and is also known as Café Van Gogh.

The painting 'Cafe Terrace at Night' by Vincent van Gogh, 1888.
‘Cafe Terrace at Night’ by Vincent van Gogh, 1888. (Image: Public Domain)

‘Christina’s World’ by Andrew Wyeth

Realist painter Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World captures attention with its unique details, matched with the mystery the piece portrays. It shows a woman with her back turned, lying in the grass, looking at a farmhouse from a distance.

While being picturesque and mystifying at the same time, the painting is based on an actual location and person. The farmhouse we see is the Olson House in Cushing, Maine, and the subject is Anna Christina Olson, Wyeth’s neighbor who had a neuromuscular condition.

The Farnsworth Art Museum now owns the still-standing Olson House, and the grounds are open for tours and visits.

‘American Gothic’ by Grant Wood

Grant Wood’s 1930 painting American Gothic shows a farmer and his daughter stiffly posing together, as in old family photographs, as they stand in front of their white farmhouse. This artwork is famous worldwide and is one of the most parodied art pieces because of the striking characters.

However, the farmhouse backdrop is not something to overlook. The white building is a real house in Eldon, Iowa, which Wood liked so much that he painted it. The house was built in the early 1880s in the Carpenter Gothic Style, an American architectural movement that applied gothic elements to wooden homes.

The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and is now known as the American Gothic House and Center, which welcomes visits from travelers far and wide.

'Christina's World' by Andrew Wyeth, 1948.
‘Christina’s World’ by Andrew Wyeth, 1948. (Image: via Public Domain)

‘The Hay Wain’ by John Constable

The Hay Wain is a notable landscape art piece by John Constable, painted in 1821 and 2005, and was voted the second most famous artwork in Britain in a BBC Radio 4 poll. The iconic painting showcases a farmer with his horses pulling a hay wagon across a river, and on the far left is a cozy farmhouse. The painting was based on Constable’s childhood town in Flatford, Suffolk, England, and the acres of farmland owned by his father. 

A farmer named Willy Lott lived in the farmhouse cottage depicted in the painting, which is why it is known as Willy Lott’s House. It still stands today and is under the care of the United Kingdom’s National Trust. Now considered a historic building, it is a popular tourist attraction visited by many. 

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  • Arianne Ayson

    Arianne is a Philippine-based content writer who specializes in creating blog posts, articles, scripts, and webpage content. When she's not busy writing, she's your regular Anime enthusiast (and K-Pop fan) who enjoys surfing the interwebs while being a full-time butler to her outdoor cats.