Café Terrace at Night, Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night was painted in 1888 in Arles, France. A later painting from Vincent van Gogh, Cafe Terrace at Night is notable for its bold use of color. The first thing the viewer sees when looking at the painting is the bright yellow walls of the cafe. While the original Vincent van Gogh cafe painting is currently housed in the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands, people can purchase reproductions to display in their homes or offices. A painting on the wall makes a great conversation piece or dresses up an otherwise dull area.
The bold color on the wall of the building in Cafe Terrace at Night is van Gogh’s way of showing the light from the lanterns. The lantern’s light is so bright that the entire wall becomes saturated with a yellow hue. The yellow color stands in sharp contrast to the deep blue of the sky and to the blue of the other buildings around the cafe.
A later Van Gogh, Cafe Terrace is an example of post-impressionism. The painter used color to express his feelings and thoughts, as evidenced by the yellow and orange that are prominent in the painting. Like the Impressionists who influenced him, swirling and prominent brushstrokes are front and center in the painting by Vincent van Gogh. Cafe Terrace at Night was van Gogh’s attempt to paint the night using colors such as blue, green, and violet.
Cafe Terrace at Night was not the original title for the painting by van Gogh. Cafe Terrace actually had a much simpler name to start, Coffeehouse, in the evening. The full name of the painting today is The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum. The real cafe still exists and is today called the Vincent van Gogh Cafe. The painting was created over a period of a week in September 1888 by van Gogh. Cafe Terrace was not signed by the painter, but there is enough evidence to give him credit for it. He wrote his sister a letter after finishing the painting, describing the process of creating it and his joy at finishing it.
For Vincent van Gogh, Cafe Terrace at Night was the start of a new series of paintings. The starry sky in the painting, just behind the Vincent van Gogh cafe, is very similar to the sky he painted in the well-known Starry Night and in Starry Night over the Rhone. While van Gogh may not have intended for there to be a connection between the three paintings, the similar skies draw them together.
Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night would be at home in almost anyone’s house. The high quality of an oil painting reproduction makes it difficult to distinguish from the actual painting. Reproductions look a lot better than poster-prints of paintings. The piece would enhance a dining room if hung over a sideboard or to the side of the dining room table. It would also brighten a home office or add a touch of beauty hung over the couch in a living room.