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Souvenir paintings of the ruins of ancient Rome made for Grand Tourists often included the Colosseum. In modern times too, theatres have been among the most prominent and prestigious buildings in the townscape. Opera houses, circuses, ballrooms and cinemas are among other types of venue that may be found in paintings of the urban scene. With the coming of gas and electric lighting, such buildings were always brightly lit at night and even more attractive to artists.

The interiors of theatres have also attracted artists. Impressionists like Degas depicted life on or behind the stage; in Britain, Walter Sickert and Laura Knight made a speciality of their scenes of performers and audiences at the music hall and ballet.