Cafe Terrace at Night (on the Place du Forum) – September, 1888 in Arles



Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum (September, 1888 in Arles)
Oil on Canvas
81cm x 65.5cm (31.9in x 25.8in)
Currently at Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo
“So far you have not told me whether you have read Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant, and what in general you think of his talent now. I say this because the beginning of Bel Ami happens to be a description of a starlight night in Paris with the brightly lighted cafés of the Boulevard, and this is approximately the same subject I just painted. (From Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh 9th and 16th September, 1888)
“In point of fact I was interrupted these days by my toiling on a new picture representing the outside of a café at night. On the terrace there are the tiny figures of drinkers. An immense yellow lantern illuminates the terrace, the façade and the sidewalk, and even casts its light on the pavement of the streets, which takes a pinkish violet tone. The gables of the houses in the street stretching away under a blue sky spangled with stars are dark blue or violet with a green tree. Here you have a night picture without black in it, done with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green, and lemon-yellow. It amuses me enormously to paint the night right on the spot. They used to draw and paint the picture in the daytime after the sketch. But I find satisfaction in painting the thing immediately” (From Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh 9th and 16th September, 1888)

There are some speculations whether the painting was originally inspired by Anquetin Louis ‘Avenue de Clichy’ – Five O’Clock in the Evening. What do you think?


And there’s more controversial debates whether the Cafe Terrace at Night is a depiction of the Last Supper but I forfeit any hope in it. Vincent was religious but squeezing out every ounce of intrigues seems to be the job of historians/philosophers. But do have a look at the image for any resemblance. Proving it, however, will be fruitless.


6 thoughts on “Cafe Terrace at Night (on the Place du Forum) – September, 1888 in Arles

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