But what I couldn’t tell myself just by looking was which images were artistic impressions and which were space photographs (if any?).
The ability to distinguish will come with experience. Like Horo, I’ve been an astronomy anorak for (too) many decades. An accumulation of such largely useless knowledge does inform that humanity and its robots have been hardly anywhere in the universe, and so dramatic vistas of distant places are very likely to be artificial.
There are two mains sorts of real “space photos”. One is long exposure, colour enhanced shots of the deep heavens taken from the Earth or in near orbit (Hubble telescope). These tend to be visually attractive, with oodles of contrast, detail and colour. The other type is shots of places we’ve been to, in person or via robot probe. These images tend to be much less visually interesting, with dull colours, awkward contrast and unexciting angles.
The asteroid belts seen in this thread, and in many books, comics and movies, are visually interesting but completely unrealistic. Actual asteroids are very rarely close together (a few are double bodies or have little asteroid moonlets), and a whole belt couldn’t be seen at these scales surrounding a star. The reference image that inspired you doesn’t represent an asteroid belt as such, it depicts how scientists imagine the very early solar system looked as the disc of gas, dust and rocks that surrounded the young sun began to differentiate and coalesce to form the planets.
A “serious” space artist will attempt to accurately illustrate how things would look from an interesting vantage point we can’t yet achieve, applying knowledge and theory to fill in any gaps. There will always be some compromise between art and accuracy, but astronomy scribblers tend toward the latter.
I’m too lazy to be serious, so just take reasonable stabs at it (or did). This one (an old Bryce5 image re-tweaked today) represents the planet Uranus as seen from the surface of its moon Titania, with Umbriel and Ariel interior.
Click thumbnail to see full-size image