Title and Year: Cafe Terrace at Night, 1888
Size: 81 x 65.5cm - 31 x 26 Inches (approx)
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Collection: Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands
Subject: Street scene
Vincent van Gogh painted several night scenes and became fascinated with depicting the stars and the light effects of the night. Van Gogh has achieved an effect of luminosity with the use of contrasting colors and tones. The darks compliment the lights, the blues intensify the oranges, and the purples bring out the yellows.
Van Gogh wrote about the Cafe Terrace at Night painting in a letter
to his sister, saying "Here you have a night painting without
black, with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green and in
this surrounding the illuminated area colors itself sulfur pale yellow
and citron green. It amuses me enormously to paint the night right
on the spot. Normally, one draws and paints the painting during the
daytime after the sketch. But I like to paint the thing immediately.
It is true that in the darkness I can take a blue for a green, a blue lilac for a pink lilac, since it is hard to distinguish the quality of the tone. But it is the only way to get away from our conventional night with poor pale whitish light, while even a simple candle already provides us with the richest of yellows and oranges."
The cafe still exists today and is a popular destination for those following the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh.