Surrounded by our four walls in lockdown one of the few ways to transport ourselves to exotic shores is through our pictures.
It is after all what our Vincent did when he struggled for his sanity.
Van Gogh had developed a taste for all things Polynesian from housemate Paul Gaugin.
Van Gogh also had his demons to exorcise too, particularly when incarcerated.
And he would explore such existential themes in his art as the Reaper himself.
Now I’m not saying that I obsess on the same even during lockdown.
But a print of his Wheatfield with a Reaper hangs proudly in our guest room, hopefully not spooking out our visitors (when they come).
Can I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam
But reminding us of the captivating Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on our tour of Amsterdam.
All of which meanderings has prompted me to share some of the finer art I’ve enjoyed on my travels.
Beheading for Malta
Beheading of St John the Baptist, Caravaggio, Valletta: There’s always something a bit unhinged about artists.
And the meeting of brushmeister and subject comes together in this classic painting, described as ‘the painting of the 17th century.’
Caravaggio was on the run and took refuge with the Knights of Malta in Malta.
But he fell out with them, was imprisoned and then escaped from their dungeons.
A theory floated in 2010 has it that Michelangelo Merisi, for it is he, was killed by poisonous paints.
And suspicious has since fallen on the Knights.
Caravaggio’s masterpiece hangs in St John’s Co-Cathedral and shows real insight into the shady side of life.
Valletta with its stunning harbour is a real jewel.
And and you can picture the intrigue and the underworld of Medieval Mediterranean life.
When we’re all able to get out again then Malta should be on your radar.
Monster Munch in Bergen
The Rasmus Meyer Collection, Bergen: And you’ll gasp at what those naughty trolls are doing in the drawings in this gallery.
Up a fjord in mystic, fabled Norway you’ll find this artistic curio.
It wouldn’t be a Norwegian gallery without a host of Edvard Munches and Bergen doesn’t disappoint.
And the story notes give you a real insight into the travails of the Great Man.
Bergen is also the place for the travels of JS Dahl whose paintings first popularised cruising in the fjords
A must visit on your MSC Cruises stop-off while, of course, you simply have to pull a Munch Scream pose.
Paint the ceiling in Padua
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua: And it’s doubtful you would have a fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel without a Scrovegni Chapel.
Well, you probably would, but it might have been the Medieval version of Dulux!
Giotto was something of an inspiration for Michelangelo and you can see his halo work here.
And yes we know the finesse of Firenze, the merits of Milan, the riches of Rome and my own recent favourite, beautiful Bergamo.
But Padua, often in the shadow of Venice, should be praised to the heavens which in fairness to Giotto he does.
Masters and Mississippi
Museum of Mississippi Art, Jackson, Mississippi: Yes, when we think art and America we immediately focus on MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York Art, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
But in truth America is a sweep of wonderful art, so take it in wherever you find it.
Which in Jackson, Mississippi is the Museum of Mississippi Art where you’ll see early Frontier art and much more.
Dirty old Lane
Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin: And it’s the Francis Bacon studio you want to see here.
Bacon bequeathed his studio to his home city on the understanding that it would be recreated in every detail.
All of which means it is messier than any student bedsit…
To think I was probably sitting on a goldmine back in Aberdeen in the Eighties.