Café Terrace at Night
also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, is an oil painting executed by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh while at Arles, France, in mid-September 1888. The painting is not signed, but described and mentioned by the artist in three letters.
After finishing Café Terrace at Night, Van Gogh wrote a letter to his sister expressing his enthusiasm:
I was interrupted precisely by the work that a new painting of the outside of a café in the evening has been giving me these past few days. 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 coloured pale sulphur, lemon green.
I enormously enjoy painting on the spot at night. In the past they used to draw, and paint the picture from the drawing in the daytime. But I find that it suits me to paint the thing straightaway.
It’s quite true that I may take a blue for a green in the dark, a blue lilac for a pink lilac, since you can’t make out the nature of the tone clearly. But it’s the only way of getting away from the conventional black night with a poor, pallid and whitish light, while in fact a mere candle by itself gives us the richest yellows and oranges.
- . Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night is an ideal example of the artist’s imagination and superb dealing with light. This painting captures the colors of light at night. ‘Light’ and ‘night’ seem contradictory words as this combination is hardly found in any scene.
- In this painting, artificial gas lanterns lighten the night sky with a glimpse of exterior of a Parisian cafe. The cafe is still there and has been a famous destination for all Gogh’s fans.
- When this painting completed, Gogh wrote a letter to his sister mentioning that he has completed a night scene without using black.
- Gogh painted this popular painting on the spot than painting it in daytime after preparing a sketch.
- Though this painting is not signed by Gogh, his letters prove that this is his own work.
- On its first official display in 1892, Coffee house in the evening was the name given to this painting. The title was later replaced by cafe Terrace at Night.
- This is the first painting by Gogh with starry backgrounds.
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