East Prospect of the Giant's Causeway (c.1739), Susanna Drury (fl.1733 – 1770). © National Museums NI. Collection Ulster Museum BELUM.U1652

To travel – to journey for education and leisure – was once a privilege, a pastime only open to the wealthy. Today the world is more accessible to many of us, artists included.

For centuries, artists provided a window to the world that was only available to a few, bringing back views of the familiar and unknown through their eyes. Many of these ‘living pictures’ inspired viewers to become visitors, and turned the places depicted into the travel destinations of the modern era.

This exhibition considers the varied forms the art has taken, including works that were published in the first widely read encyclopedia, the birth of Romanticism, the Picturesque and the route of the Grand Tour.

The role of the ‘artist as traveller’ has changed as the world has become easier to explore. The shift in how people travel has allowed artists to interpret the world around them in new ways. Artists’ motives have changed from showing an idyllic version of a place, or being hired to ‘take the view’ of the Empire; to seeking to educate, agitate and inspire.


Wet Evening on the Riva, Venice Emily Murray Paterson (1855 – 1934). © National Museums NI. Collection Ulster Museum Belum.U836