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“Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin” by Vincent van Gogh

"Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin" by Vincent van Gogh

“Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin” by Vincent van Gogh

“Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin” by Vincent van Gogh depicts a woman smoking a cigarette while having a glass of beer. Agostina Segatori was the owner of the Café du Tambourin, and she knew Van Gogh.

Agostina Segatori is wearing a fashionable hat, and her jacket is a different design than her dress, which was the fashion of that time. 

Her parasol sits on one of the seats next to her, and she is having her second glass of beer, as evidenced by two saucers under the mug of beer. Her clothing, make-up, hairstyle, her cigarette and drink all mark her as a modern woman.

The table and stools were in the shape of tambourines, aligning with the café’s theme and name. The theme of a woman sitting at a small table was introduced by the Impressionists artists, such as Edgar Degas and Édouard Manet.

Café du Tambourin was a gathering spot for Parisian artists, a place where their work was exhibited. On the wall behind her are van Gogh’s Japanese prints, which he began exhibiting at the café in February 1887.

Van Gogh was unable to pay in cash for his meals, so he exchanged paintings for his food and drink. The paintings then adorned the restaurant, and he held an exhibition of his Japanese prints in the café as well.

This brightly colored painting represents a shift in Van Gogh’s attitude compared to his earlier works depicting dark and tragic peasants.

This painting demonstrates his artistic exploration and his unique journey to the style we now understood and praise.

Vincent van Gogh’s relationship with Agostina and the cafe came to a sad end when she went bankrupt, and her creditors confiscated Van Gogh’s paintings.

Debtors sized Van Gogh’s art and sold them as canvases in batches of 10. Due to the bankruptcy of the cafe, Van Gogh lost many of his paintings, mostly still life works of flowers. This was a significant loss to Van Gogh.

Café du Tambourin

Agostina Segatori, the subject of this painting, was also an artist’s model to Manet, Corot, and others.

She was born in Naples and had saved the money she earned working as a model to open the Italian-themed Café du Tambourin in 1885, which mainly catered to artists.

The café was on the Boulevard de Clichy in Paris, close to where Vincent van Gogh lived in with his brother Theo. 

Van Gogh used the restaurant as a venue for an exhibition of his paintings, a practice initiated by artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul-Albert Besnard, and others.

In 1887 van Gogh had several meals a week at the café, which were paid in paintings to adorn the restaurant’s walls. He fell in love with Agostina, who was twelve years older.

Soon after, though, Agostina’s business fell on hard times. She had become ill, and her business, which was in debt, failed.

Van Gogh in Paris

In 1886 van Gogh left the Netherlands, never to return, he went to Paris to live with his brother Theo. He came to Paris as a shy, solemn man but emerged artistically with a brighter palette and as a more thoughtful and provoking artist.

While van Gogh had been influenced by the great Dutch masters, coming to Paris meant that he was also influenced by the Impressionists, Symbolists, Pointillists, and Japanese prints.

His circle of friends included Camille Pissarro, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, and others. 

The works of Japanese artists Hiroshige and Hokusai greatly influenced van Gogh, both for the beautiful subject matter and the style of flat patterns of colors without shadow.

Van Gogh explored the various influences and molded them into a style that was uniquely his own.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure.

He created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life.

They were characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive, and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin

  • Title:                       Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin
  • Alternative:           In the café: Agostina Segatori in Le tambourin
  • Dutch:                    In het café: Agostina Segatori in Le tambourin
  • Artist:                     Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                       1887 until 1888
  • Medium:                Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:          Height: 55.5 cm (21.8 in); Width: 46.5 cm (18.3 in)
  • Museum:               Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh in Paris: Agostina Segatori

Vincent Van Gogh – In the cafe Agostina Segatori in Le Taambourin


“The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.”
– Vincent van Gogh


Photo Credit: 1) Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; Paul Gauguin / Public domain

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