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“Café Terrace at Night” by Vincent van Gogh

“Café Terrace at Night” by Vincent van Gogh

“Café Terrace at Night” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the terrace of the café on the Place du Forum in Arles, France in the night. The night is painted with no black in the sky, it features only a blue sky with Van Gogh’s unique star motifs.

The Cafe is illuminated with sulfur pale yellow and citron green. Van Gogh painted the view looking south towards the lit terrace of the famous coffee house.

He contrasted the brightly lit Cafe with the darkness of the rue du Palais, which led up to the wall of buildings and towards the tower of a former church, which is now Musée Lapidaire.

On the right, Van Gogh painted the light from the shop windows as well and some green branches of the trees surrounding the place.

The painting is not signed, but van Gogh mentioned it in three letters. After finishing this painting, he wrote a letter to his sister:

“On the terrace, there are little figures of people drinking. A huge yellow lantern lights the terrace, the façade, the pavement, and even projects light over the cobblestones of the street, which takes on a violet-pink tinge. The gables of the houses on a street that leads away under the blue sky studded with stars are dark blue or violet, with a green tree. Now there’s a painting of night without black. With nothing but beautiful blue, violet, and green, and in these surroundings, the lighted square is colored pale sulfur, lemon green. I enormously enjoy painting on the spot at night.”

"Café Terrace at Night" by Vincent van Gogh

Preparatory Study by Vincent van Gogh – Dallas Museum of Art

Vincent van Gogh painted the constellations with such accuracy, experts have been able to precisely date the creation of the painting to 16-17 September 1888.

This is the first painting in which Vincent van Gogh used starry backgrounds. He went on to paint star-filled skies in “Starry Night Over the Rhône,” and “The Starry Night.” 

Today, visitors can stand at the same spot on the northeastern corner of the Place du Forum, where Van Gogh set up his easel. The site was refurbished to replicate van Gogh’s painting.

"Café Terrace at Night" by Vincent van Gogh

The café in Place du Forum in Arles

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.

Vincent van Gogh 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.

Café Terrace at Night

  • Title:                    Terrace of the café on the Place du Forum in Arles in the evening
  • Also                     The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum
  • Artist:                  Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                    1888
  • Medium:             Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions        Height: 81 cm (31.8″); Width: 65.5 cm (25.7″)
  • Museum:            Kröller-Müller Museum

Vincent van Gogh

The Cafe Terrace at Night

Cafe Terrace at Night by Vincent Van Gogh


“The best way to know God is to love many things.”
– Vincent van Gogh


Photo Credit: 1) Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons ; John / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons; Isiwal/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0-at / CC BY-SA 

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