Between Art and Nature: Iconic Artistic Retreats

Every artist requires inspiration, traveling far and wide in search of the muse. The muse might be a person, a place, a song but for most, it has been and still remains the beauty of nature!

Many will argue that being in the midst of nature truly gets their creative juices flowing and how they love to paint surrounded by blossoms in a garden. Artists draw inspiration from the sight of a lush green meadow, the view of a winding valley, and the changing colors of seasons.

The great masters are no different and many of their best works depict the natural surroundings of artistic retreats where they felt most at ease and brought to life such exceptional creations. Let’s take a tour of some of the iconic artistic retreats around the globe that inspired some great works of art.

The Garden of Claude Monet in Giverny

The gardens at his retreat in Giverny are forever immortalized by the paintings of this great master. Claude Monet (1840-1926), the French Impressionist painter, having lived most of his life in Poissy, moved to Giverny at the age of 73 and lived there for the rest of his life.

Besides being a marvelous artist, he took great interest in gardening and dedicated much of his time tending to the flowers at his retreat. Some of his great works that reflect the beauty of this garden at Giverny include Irisis In Monets Garden(1900), Pathway In Monets Garden In Giverny(1902), and The Flowered Garden(1901).


The Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), spent much of his later years exploring and painting the breath-taking landscape of Aix-en-Provence in France. In his work he aimed at depicting human forms and buildings only as an extension of the natural landscape, blending them together to appear as a whole.

The Aix-en-Provence has been an escape for many artists from the thoroughfares of Paris and the art world. Pablo Picasso moved to Aix-en-Provence and bought himself a 17th-century castle on the Northern slopes of Sainte Victoire where he painted the Nude under a Pine Tree in 1959. Picasso has been quoted saying “I have just bought myself Cezanne’s mountains”.

Other artists who took refuge and drew inspiration from this landscape include the Post-Impressionist Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) and the French Baroque painter and sculptor Pierre Paul Puget (1620-1694).

New Mexico with Georgia O’Keeffe

When one thinks of the portrayal of nature in art, one cannot fail but think of Georgia O’Keeffe! Her paintings of enlarged flowers, landscapes of Maui and New Mexico are so original in their representation of the elements of nature and thug at the heart of every nature lover!

Georgia O’Keeffe(1887-1986) is widely considered as the Mother of American Modernism and her travels to places of explicit natural beauty is what truly inspired her creations. Tired of living in New York City, she permanently moved to New Mexico in 1949.

In a letter, she is quoted saying “For a long time I have intended to come down here so here I am. It is the first time that I have felt free… And I wanted to find a warm place I might wish to return to when my world gets too cold and windy.” This freedom she felt is evident in her numerous masterpieces that bring forth her connection with nature and the landscape.

Refuge in the Rocky Mountains

American painter and printmaker Thomas Moran (1837-1926) is widely known for his paintings of the Rocky Mountains. Besides A Miracle of Nature (1913), his other masterpieces include The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (1872) and Chasm of Colorado (1874).

Great artists like Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Hill, and William Keith are known to have traveled far and wide into the Rocky Mountains, finding small inns to live in, and spent hours absorbing the magnificence of this enormous landscape. These mountains have brought to artists the solitude for introspection, truly bringing forth their talent on canvas.

Artistic Retreats in Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven, a seaside town in Brittany became a retreat for many brilliant artists who moved and lived there drawing inspiration from its culture and natural surroundings. French Post-impressionist artist Paul Gaugin moved there in 1886, painting many of his best works in this artsy heaven.

As early as 1866 American artists like Robert Wylie, Charles Wat, and Howard Roberts were the first group to shift to this town followed by Benjamin Champney, Fredrick Bridgeman, Moses Wright, and the noted painter Emile Bernard. Over the next decade, the reputation of the artistic colony spread far and wide turning it into a go-to retreat for artists the world over.

Today, one can visit Pont-Aven for the artistic haven it once was and still be inspired by its beauty, culture, and the role this little town played in the art world of the bygone days.

The Bottom Line

Artists old and new have always sought and found inspiration and comfort in nature. Each one in their own unique style has brought forth their interpretation of the natural element to the delight of the viewer. You can always get these great works on nature recreated for you and enjoy them at your own pace and leisure at