The real-life locations of 10 of the world's greatest masterpiece paintings

Great art can take you to some amazing places – sometimes literally. Some of the greatest paintings of all time feature real world locations. Some landscape masterpieces are partly so strong because of where they are set. But sometimes there's more satisfaction in finding the exact spot where a world famous portrait was painted…

The Entrance to the Grand Canal

Where? Venice, Italy

Let's start with the easy ones, shall we? Canaletto churned out paintings of Venice like they were mass-produced Christmas cards. You can pick one of dozens, but 1730's The Entrance to the Grand Canal in the Houston Museum of Fine Arts handily tells you exactly where it is set in the title. See venice-tourism.com

Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute in Venice iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.  The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley

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View of Toledo

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436575 Supplied image for Traveller. Check for re-use. The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley. Paintings are out of copyright. 

Where? Toledo, Spain

Another one that gives a stonking great clue in the title is El Greco's View of Toledo. But the artist played a few tricks, moving a few buildings around, so you'll never be able to replicate the exact view. The best approximation, however, is to be found by the Tagus River, looking out towards the city from the east. See esmadrid.com

Toledo, Spain old city over the Tagus River. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.  The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley

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American Gothic

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Grant Wood, American Gothic
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Where? Eldon, Iowa

One of the most recognisable paintings of the 20th century, Grant Wood's American Gothic features a farmer and his daughter outside their distinctive house. That house is Dibble House in Eldon, Iowa (below), and it has been preserved on the National Register of Historic Places. You can even go inside – it's now a museum that goes into great detail about the house, models, artist and painting. See americangothichouse.org

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American Gothic house, Iowa

The Scream

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Edvard Munch, 1893, The Scream

Where? Oslo, Norway

Edvard Munch's infamous and much-copied painting was set against the backdrop of a highly-stylised Oslofjord. The exact spot where the screaming figure stands is on the hill in the eastern Oslo neighbourhood of Ekeberg. The view from the Ekebergutsikten lookout isn't exactly the same today – more than a century of building has gone on since Munch painted The Scream. But there's a fine dining restaurant and sculpture park right next to it. See visitoslo.com

View from above Ekebergparken over Sorenga District towards Oslo Cityscape with Oslo Harbor in late afternoon light close to twilight. Oslo City, Norway, Scandinavia, Europe iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.  The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley

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The Persistence of Memory

Supplied image for Traveller. Check for re-use. Copyright: Salvador Dali­, Gala-Salvador DalíFoundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
MOMA
Salvador DalíThe Persistence of Memory1931

Photo: Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Where? Cap de Creus, Spain

Salvador Dalí's surrealist masterpiece, found at New York's Museum of Modern Art, is best known for its melting pocket watches, but the background depicts a beautiful beach and elegant cliffs. These are from the Cap de Creus peninsula in northern Catalonia – the easternmost point of mainland Spain. The cliffs were well known to Dalí as he lived in the village of Port Lligat. You can visit Dalí's house – now a museum – after seeing the cliffs. See salvador-dali.org

Elevated view over Llançà and along the coastline of the northern Costa Brava towards Puerto de Selva. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.  The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley

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The Starry Night

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Van Gogh - Starry Night

Where? Saint-Rémy, France

Vincent Van Gogh took the view from his asylum in France as the inspiration for The Starry Night. The village pictured was an addition of the imagination, however, so don't turn up in the spot hoping it'll look the same. The asylum was inside the Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint-Rémy (pictured below), just south of Avignon. Much of the monastery has now been turned into a Van Gogh Museum. See saintpauldemausole.fr

Saint-Rémy de Provence, France-06 18 2015:People enjoying taking picture in the lavender field in front of the Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole, a former psychiatric center where the painter Vincent van Gogh was treated in 1889–1890. The Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole is located near Saint-Rémy in the Provence region of southern France. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.  The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley

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Café Terrace at Night

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Where? Arles, France

The other great Van Gogh landscape in southern France is Café Terrace at Night, which was set in Place du Forum in Arles. The local authorities have made it as easy as possible to replicate the view, doing up the north-eastern corner of the square to look like it did back when Van Gogh painted it. In a piece of shameless tourist-trapping, the café in question is now called Le Café Van Gogh (below). See arlestourisme.com

Arles, France, April 28,  2019.  Visitors to the city eating and drinking at Cafe la Nuit, made famous by Vincent Van Gogh painting

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The Water Lily Pond

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The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley. Paintings are out of copyright. 
Japanese Bridge Over Water Lillies  by Claude Monet

Where? Giverny, France

Claude Monet's Water Lilies series depicts the lily pond in his garden in Giverny, a town on the River Seine between Paris and Rouen. He lived in the house for 43 years, merrily cultivating the gardens when not painting them. Monet's house and garden is now open to visitors, and that can mean tour bus herds blocking the best views of the lilies. See fondation-monet.com

The famous lily pond of the painter Monet iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.  The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley

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The Hay Wain

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John Constable, The Hay Wain (1821)

Where? Flatford, England

John Constable's painting depicting three horses pulling a wooden wagon across a river was set on the River Stour. The river forms the border between Suffolk and Essex, although the perspective takes in the scene from Flatford Mill on the Sussex side. These days, the tiny hamlet of Flatford is run as something of a Constable shrine by the National Trust. The house in the painting, known as Willy Lott's House, still stands. See nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford

A group of rowing boats moored in the River Stour at Flatford Mill in Suffolk, eastern England. Flatford Mill was the scene of many works by the famous English painter John Constable. The area around the Mill is open to the public for walking and leisure. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted.  The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley

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The Cricketers

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The real-life sites of art masterpieces by David Whitley. Paintings are out of copyright. 
The Cricketers, Russell Drysdale

Where? Hill End, NSW

Russell Drysdale's evocative painting of three boys playing cricket in an empty town is one of the great 20th century Australian artworks. It was painted in Hill End, a gold rush town between Orange, Mudgee and Bathurst. The main building featured in The Cricketers is the Royal Hotel (pictured below) – it's the side wall on the left-hand side of the building. See nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

Getty image for Traveller. Single use only. Royal Hotel, c.1872, Hill End, NSW

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David Whitley has been a guest of the English, French, NSW and Venice tourist boards.

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