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“Tarascon Stagecoach” by Vincent van Gogh

"Tarascon Stagecoach" by Vincent van Gogh

“Tarascon Stagecoach” by Vincent van Gogh

“Tarascon Stagecoach” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the courtyard of the inn at Arles with two stagecoaches.  The composition shows the influence of the Japanese prints that van Gogh loved.

The bold composition has a non-Western perspective with brightly colored carriages of green, red, wheels yellow, black, blue, orange.

The short shadows and the closed shutters of the inn indicate that it is early afternoon and siesta time. Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo stating that the subject of this painting was suggested by Alphonse Daudet’s novel Tartarin de Tarascon, published in 1872.

 “Well, I’ve just painted that red and green carriage in the yard of the inn . . .”

In the novel, an old stagecoach from Provence was used in the French colonies in North Africa, reminisces about its glory days on the Tarascon–Nîmes route. This painting is a sentimental expression for the old ways of Provence that were quickly disappearing.

In a letter to his brother in 1888, Van Gogh discussed his technique and some of the artistic influences on the painting, including Claude Monet and Adolphe Monticelli.

The carriages are painted in the style of Monticelli, with impastos. The bold, colorful composition was influenced by the inspirational memories of Claude Monet’s colorful artworks. 

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.

Tarascon Stagecoach

  • Title:                 Tarascon Stagecoach
  • Artist:               Vincent van Gogh
  • Year:                 1888
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions      Height: 71.4 cm (28.1 in); Width: 92.5 cm (36.4 in)
  • Museum:          Princeton University Art Museum

Vincent van Gogh

Facts about Vincent van Gogh

  • Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands
  • Initially, van Gogh planned to be a pastor and worked as a lay preacher in Belgium. It was only on being let go from this job that he decided that his future lay in painting.
  • Van Gogh didn’t start painting until he was 27 years old.
  • Van Gogh never received any formal art training.
  • Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, worked in an art gallery and introduced van Gogh to many artworks.
  • Van Gogh visited many parts of Europe, including the Netherlands, France, Belgium, and England.
  • Japanese woodblock prints profoundly influenced Van Gogh. He collected pictures of Japanese woodblock prints, and he practiced making copies.
  • Van Gogh had several close relationships with many fellow artists, including Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard.
  • Van Gogh’s artistic career was only ten years.
  • Van Gogh was a prolific letter writer, especially to his brother.
  • He created over 900 paintings plus many more drawings and sketches.
  • He died at the age of 37
  • As a poor artist, van Gogh didn’t have money to pay for models, so he painted himself instead. He created hundreds of self-portraits.
  • Van Gogh considered himself and many of his paintings to be failures.
  • Van Gogh cut off his ear in 1888.
  • Experts believe that that Gaugin cut off Van Gogh’s ear, following a violent dispute and that they both conspired to blame it on van Gogh so that Gaugin would not be jailed.
  • Van Gogh wrapped up his removed ear and gave it to a prostitute in a nearby brothel.
  • Van Gogh suffered mental health challenges for many years, and in 1889 he voluntarily admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy.
  • Van Gogh spent a year in the hospital, from which he created some of his most well-known paintings.
  • Van Gogh spent his adult life in poverty, surviving on cheap food. His diet consisted mainly of bread and coffee; he drank alcohol excessively and always had his pipe in hand.
  • After leaving the asylum, Van Gogh’s mental health continued to deteriorate, and in 1890, he shot himself in the chest. He died two days later.
  • There is speculation that Van Gogh did not shoot himself but that he was shot in a prank that went wrong. Van Gogh protected the identity of who shot him, by claiming that he shot himself.
  • Only 37 years old when he died, he had just sold one painting in his lifetime.
  • On his deathbed, van Gogh’s last words to his brother were, “the sadness will last forever.”
  • Van Gogh’s brother died very soon after Van Gogh’s death.

Highlights of the Princeton University Art Museum

Tarascon Stagecoach 1888


“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

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