Cafe Terrace at Night by Vincent Van GoghBy Ritika Tiwari Tuesday, April 04, 2017 Art, AtoZChallenge
Sometimes we meet people who are truly so talented that we can see greatness leaking through them. They might not have done anything amazing in their life yet, but looking at them, you just know they are going to be really successful some day.
Cafe Terrace at Night was that painting for Van Gogh. It was the first time he painted the starry night, even if it was just for a small part of the painting.
His world-famous painting The Starry Night and The Starry Night over Rhone was done just a year after this one.
Why Cafe Terrace at Night is so unique
A part of the post impressionism art movement was that artists didn’t paint exactly what they saw, they used colours to express their feelings about the subject.
Van Gogh hated the black and white colours of the night sky, and that is why he decided to paint the sky dark blue and stars in the shade of yellow. In a letter to his sister, he talked about how he did this painting in the middle of the night by setting up the isle in front of the cafe. (He spent three sleepless nights to complete this painting)
“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.”
But my favourite part of the painting are the quick brushtrokes he did combined with the different shades of yellow and orange. One look at the painting and you will instantly think of that signature yellow-orangish shade that you see in colonial French quarters. (I am currently staying in a French quarter like that)
Also, if you notice more minutely, you will see the entire painting has inward lines and the centre of the painting is not the cafe but the horse carriage at the back. (You might have to zoom the painting to see that)
The cafe exists in real life
Now called '', the cafe still exists in the South of France and as you might expect, it is always full of Van Gogh fans. Right around Place du Forum, you can stand at the same place where Vincent set up is easel and see the same scene he painted. Definitely a bucket list location for me.
Was Cafe Terrace at Night a homage to The Last Supper by Leornardo Da Vinci?
While it might sound like a Dan Brown plot to you, do believe that Van Gogh hid a secret homage to Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
On close inspection of Van Gogh’s painting, historians found out that the main characters include one central figure with long hairs (like Jesus) with 12 individuals and a shadow figure.
That is exact plot of The Last Supper (the shadow is Judas by the way)
While I am not sure that is true or not, I do know that Vincent was religious and he often used religious symbols in his paintings. But that’s a story for another day.
For today, fall in love with Vincent Van Gogh’s interpretation of a French cafe and a starry night.
What Cafe Terrace at Night means to me
It is a reminder that you have the potential in you, even when others cannot see it yet. So if you are slugging away for a dream that nobody thinks is possible, then tell them there was a time when people thought Van Gogh was a crappy artist.
The art stayed the same, only the perspective changed.
This post is a part of the A2Z Challenge I am doing, if you want to check all the A2Z posts, just click here