travelling around every corner of Europe;
avocado with lemon juice and grated black pepper. If Museyon Guides had slipped some avocado into their Art and Travel book, they would have hit the jackpot.
Art and Travel is a travel guide to Europe with a particular focus. It is centred on just five artists (Van Gogh, Vermeer, Goya, Caravaggio, Munch) and the cities they made famous (Arles, Delft, Madrid, Rome, Oslo). This immediately raises a problem – who chose those five particular artists and why them? I have no argument with Vermeer and Caravaggio, and would have definitely put them in my top five as well. But I think I would have included Chagall, Constable, Reynolds, Van Dyck, Durer, Rembrandt, Manet, El Greco and others! I can certainly understand how difficult the selection process must have been.
Girl with the Pearl Earring, c1666
Mauritshuis, The Hague
But this guidebook has an extra strength; it enables the tourist to follow a trail with more pertinent information than most tourists could find for themselves. The Where to See… The Walking Tour pages provide the important link between each geographical location and the relevant painting that incorporated that location. I know a great deal about van Gogh, for example, but would not have known which café had been depicted in Café Terrace on the Place du Forum. The Extended Travel pages are equally important, given that artists tended to have a number of homes during their adult lives. Anatomy of a Masterpiece pages give short but detailed information on each of the artists’ best paintings, including their locations in public collections. And the Suggested Web Sites and Books pages were very helpful.
I didn’t need hotel and restaurant recommendations since they are available in any of the thousands of ordinary, non-specialist travel guide in print. And I didn’t need to read the tourist highlights of the cities being visited, or souvenirs, for the same reason. But having said that, the guide did locate some places that had a legitimate but unknown (to me) connection with the artist eg a café in Oslo where the creative types liked to hang around, 120 years ago.
Cafe Terrace at Night, 1888
Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo
Many thanks to Laura Robinson for the copy of Art + Travel Europe: Step into the Lives of Five Famous Painters, Museyon Guides, March 2010