A New York Times story today reports that new construction on Cape Cod (Truro, Mass) may endanger, even obliterate, a barren view that may have inspired some of Edward Hopper's paintings. Here's the story. A couple plans to build a mansion in the way, and some of the neighbors are complaining. But if you take the idea of protecting such views to their natural extreme, it's ridiculous.
Now I must admit that protecting scenery that has inspired artists might have its good side. Consider David Roberts, whose many, many paintings of Jerusalem and its surrounds are well-known. Preserving all the views that inspired him would imply allowing only about 1,000 people to live within ten miles of Jerusalem. I have no idea how that would affect Middle-Eastern politics, but surely the effect would be profound.
Thanks goodness Rembrandt never found time to come to Manhattan and paint its lovely rural landscapes; we might have had to preserve those scapes even today. Remember the Red Apple's motto: If you can make it here, then Rembrandt must have failed to paint what you're building over.
And what of El Greco's View of Toledo? How much of Toledo do we need to rip down to restore the view that inspired him? And then there's Vermeer's View of Delft. If any artist's inspired view was ever worth preserving, this one is it.