If you spend a fair amount of time at the computer and have a window with a boring view, or no window at all, then a monotone or tiled pattern desktop background can seem like just another piece of blank wall, reinforcing your confinement. But change your background to The Embarkation of Ulysses, and suddenly you’re no longer staring at a monitor, but looking out onto the sun-crested Aegean, through a port teeming with ships and surrounded by stone towers and marble columns.
Famous works of art make for fantastic backgrounds. They typically require some resizing and cropping, but the minimal editing is well worth it. A scene with depth can really open up the workspace.
I like seascapes, myself, so lately I’ve been gravitating towards Claude Lorrain, an artist whose work I stumbled upon, of all places, in an English textbook years ago.
The version above has been modified for WSXGA resolutions (1680 x 1050).
Image: Claude Lorrain via WikiPaintings