|The Night Café in the Place Lamartine in Arles|
Oil on canvas
70.0 x 89.0 cm.
Arles: 5-8 September 1888
F 463, JH 1575
New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery
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The Night Café in the Place Lamartine in Arles is one of Vincent van Gogh's best known paintings from his Arles period. The work depicts the interior of the Café de la Gare, an all night tavern owned by Joseph-Michel Ginoux and his wife Marie.
Van Gogh often visited brothels and disreputable drinking establishments. The desolate setting of the Café de la Gare served as an inspiration for Van Gogh who wrote of the painting to his brother, Theo:
In my picture of the "Night Café" I have tried to express the idea that the café is a place where one can ruin oneself, go mad or commit a crime. So I have tried to express, as it were, the powers of darkness in a low public house, by soft Louis XV green and malachite, contrasting with yellow-green and harsh blue-greens, and all this in an atmosphere like a devil's furnace, of pale sulphur.
The subject matter conveys a sense of loneliness and desperation. The slouched drinkers and lone figure (the owner, Joseph-Michel Ginoux) behind the billiard table, along with the skewed perspective and stark colouring, create a jarring and disturbing work. Van Gogh himself compared the tone of the painting as delirium tremens in full swing (Letter 534).
In another letter to Theo, Van Gogh acknowledged the disturbing nature of the painting, but felt that this was, in fact, why the work was successful:
The idea of the "The Sower" continues to haunt me all the time. Exaggerated studies like the "Sower" and like this "Night Café" usually seem to me atrociously ugly and bad, but when I am moved by something, as now by this little article on Dostoievsky, then these are the only ones which appear to have any deep meaning.
As a general rule, Van Gogh only signed the works that he felt were the most well executed. In the lower right corner of this painting Van Gogh wrote "Vincent le café de nuit".
Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh's friend and fellow artist, would come to live with Vincent shortly after The Night Café was painted. In fact, Gauguin himself would paint his own version. The atmosphere of the two works is quite different. In Van Gogh's version, one finds isolation and despair, while Gauguin's is more lively with a focus on Madame Ginoux. Gauguin wrote to Emile Bernard about his painting: " . . . a café that Vincent likes a lot and that I like less. At bottom it's not my sort of thing and local low life doesn't work for me. I like it well enough when others do it but it always makes me uneasy."
The different flavours of both works may reflect the personalities of the two artists. Gauguin, being more sociable and outgoing, creates a lighter and more bustling atmosphere, whereas Van Gogh, troubled by his own isolation and inner torments chose to produce a more disturbing environment.1
In comparison . . . .
On site . . . .
A brief video of a viewing of Night Café at the Yale University Art Gallery.
|Johanna van Gogh-Bonger||Amsterdam||Netherlands|
|Bernheim-Jeune Art Gallery||Paris||France||April, 1907||
|Ivan Morosov||Moscow||Russia||1908||Acquired at the exhibition of the Golden Fleece, Moscow.|
|Museum of Modern Art||Moscow||Russia|
|Knoedler Art Gallery||New York||United States||
|Stephen C. Clark||New York||United States||1933 or 1934||
|Yale University Art Gallery||New Haven (Conn.)||United States||1961||Stephen Carlton Clark bequest.|
|Year||City||Country||Venue||Exhibition Name||Start Date||End Date||No.|
|1905||Amsterdam||Netherlands||Stedelijk Museum||Tentoonstelling Vincent van Gogh||15 July 1905||1 August 1905||133|
|1905||Utrecht||Netherlands||Vereeniging 'Voor de Kunst'||Tentoonstelling van schilderijen door Vincent van Gogh||10 September 1905||1 October 1905||43|
|1906||Rotterdam||Netherlands||Kunstzalen Oldenzeel||Tentoonstelling Vincent van Gogh||26 January 1906||28 February 1906||39|
|1908||Moscow||Russia||Exp. 'Toison d'or'||
|1928||Moscow||Russia||Museum of Modern Art||
|1934||Chicago||United States||Art Institute of Chicago||A Century of Progress, Paintings and Sculpture||1 June 1934||1 November 1934||312|
|1934-35||New York||United States||Museum of Modern Art||Modern Work of Art||20 November 1934||20 January 1935||17|
|1935-36||New York||United States||Museum of Modern Art||Vincent van Gogh||5 November 1935||5 January 1936||34|
|1936||Philadelphia||United States||Philadelphia Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh||11 January 1936||10 February 1936||34|
|1936||Boston||United States||Museum of Fine Arts||Vincent van Gogh||19 February 1936||15 March 1936||34|
|1936||Cleveland (1)||United States||Cleveland Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh||25 March 1936||19 April 1936||34|
|1936||San Francisco||United States||California Palace of the Legion of Honor||Vincent van Gogh||28 April 1936||24 May 1936||34|
|1936||Kansas City||United States||William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Atkins Museum||Vincent van Gogh||9 June 1936||10 July 1936||34|
|1936||Minneapolis||United States||Minneapolis Institute of Arts||Vincent van Gogh||20 July 1936||17 August 1936||34|
|1936||Chicago||United States||Art Institute of Chicago||Vincent van Gogh||26 August 1936||23 September 1936||34|
|1936||Detroit||United States||Detroit Institute of Arts||Vincent van Gogh||6 October 1936||28 October 1936||34|
|1940||New York (2)||United States||New York World's Fair||Masterpieces of Art||
|1940||Chicago||United States||Arts Club||Origins of Modern Art||
|1940||New York (1)||United States||Museum of Modern Art||Modern Masters from European and American Collections||26 January 1940||24 March 1940||10|
|1942||New York||United States||Paul Rosenberg||Vincent van Gogh Masterpieces||5 January 1942||31 January 1942||1|
|1943||New York (2)||United States||Wildenstein and Co.||The Art and Life of Vincent van Gogh. Loan Exhibition in Aid of American and Dutch War Relief||6 October 1943||7 November 1943||32|
|1948||New York (1)||United States||M. Knoedler and Co.||Vincent van Gogh: 14 Masterpieces||30 March 1948||17 April 1948||6|
|1948||Cleveland||United States||Cleveland Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh||3 November 1948||12 December 1948||11|
|1949-50||New York||United States||Metropolitan Museum of Art||Vincent van Gogh Paintings and Drawings. A Special Loan Exhibition||21 October 1949||15 January 1950||80a|
|1950||Chicago||United States||Art Institute of Chicago||Vincent van Gogh Paintings and Drawings. A Special Loan Exhibition||1 February 1950||16 April 1950||80a|
|1955||New York (3)||United States||Museum of Modern Art||Paintings from Private Collections||31 May 1955||5 September 1955||45|
|1958||New York (1)||United States||Metropolitan Museum of Art||Paintings from Private Collections, Summer Loan Exhibition||1 July 1958||1 September 1958||65|
|1959||New York (2)||United States||Metropolitan Museum of Art||Paintings from Private Collections, Summer Loan Exhibition||7 July 1959||6 September 1959||51|
|1960||New Haven||United States||Yale University Art Gallery||Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Collected by Yale Alumni||19 May 1960||26 June 1960||70|
|1960||New York (2)||United States||Metropolitan Museum of Art||Paintings from Private Collections, Summer Loan Exhibition||6 July 1960||4 September 1960||47|
|1990||Amsterdam||Netherlands||Van Gogh Museum||Vincent van Gogh. Schilderijen||30 March 1990||29 July 1990||58|
|1993||Essen||Germany||Museum Folkwang||Morosow und Schtschukin, die Russischen Sammler: Monet bis Picasso||25 June 1993||31 October 1993||
|1993-94||Moscow||Russia||Pushkin Museum||Morosow und Schtschukin, die Russischen Sammler: Monet bis Picasso||30 November 1993||30 January 1994||
|1994||St. Petersburg||Russia||Hermitage||Morosow und Schtschukin, die Russischen Sammler: Monet bis Picasso||16 February 1994||16 April 1994||
|2006||Williamstown, Massachusetts||United States||Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute||The Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings from the Collections of Sterling and Stephen Clark||4 June 2006||4 September 2006||1|
|2007||New York (2)||United States||Metropolitan Museum||Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings: The Clark Brothers Collect||22 May 2007||19 August 2007||---|
|2008-09||New York||United States||Museum of Modern Art||Van Gogh at the Colours of the Night||21 September 2008||5 January 2009||34|
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