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“The Night Café” by Vincent van Gogh

Le café de nuit (The Night Café) by Vincent van Gogh

“The Night Café” by Vincent van Gogh

“The Night Café” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the interior of Café de la Gare, in Arles. Five customers are sitting at tables, and a waiter in a light coat is standing and facing the viewer.  A half-curtained doorway in the centre background is leading to more private quarters.  The title of this painting is inscribed lower right beneath the signature. In highly contrasting and vivid colours, the paint is applied thickly, with the perspective leading toward the door in the back.

Van Gogh stayed up for three consecutive nights to paint the picture, sleeping during the day. Van Gogh wrote to his brother about the Café:

“… staying open all night. “Night prowlers” can take refuge there when they have no money to pay for a lodging or are too drunk to be taken in. ”

Van Gogh depicted very few café scenes and his most famous is “Cafe Terrace at Night” showing outdoor tables, a street scene and the night sky, was also painted in Arles at about the same period of his life.

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. Van Gogh’s paintings feature bold colours and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

Exploring Vincent van Gogh


  • It took Van Gogh three nights to complete this picture. What do you think the subjects in this picture thought of the painter?
  • Van Gogh used this painting to settle debts with the landlord depicted standing in the picture. If only the landlord knew the future?
  • Is it hard to believe that this art was created 130 years ago?
  • What do you think of Van Gogh’s use of colour and perspective in this painting?
  • What time is depicted in this painting?
  • How do you think Van Gogh felt about this place?

The Night Cafe

  • Title:                The Night Café
  • French:            Le Café de nuit
  • Artist:              Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                1888
  • Medium:         Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions     72.4 × 92.1 cm (28.5 × 36.3 in)
  • Museum:         Yale University Art Gallery

Vincent van Gogh


“Of course one should not drink much, but often.”
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


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