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Van Gogh's Café Terrace at Night

9.02.2012




A quick stop in the historic town of Arles allowed me the wondrous pleasure of visiting the café that inspired Vincent Van Gogh's painting Café Terrace at Night. It gave me pause to realize I was standing in the very space Van Gogh once occupied nearly 125 years ago, September of 1888; breathing the same air; taking in the velvety night sky and surrounding colors he brilliantly rendered and so often wrote about in letters to his brother Theo...

"... And in a picture I want to say something comforting, as music is comforting... So I am always between two currents of thought, first the material difficulties, turning round and round to make a living; and second, the study of colour. I am always in hope of making a discovery there,... to express hope by some star, the eagerness of a soul by a sunset radiance. Certainly there is no delusive realism in that, but isn't it something that actually exists?..."


* The café was remodeled in 1990/91 to appear similar to Van Gogh's painting; and appropriately enough, it is now called Café Van Gogh. 

12 comments

  1. Oh, so gorgeous! I love the side-by-side contrast and the quote from his letter, wonderful. Your photos make me want to be sitting in Arles, drinking in a September evening, sigh...

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    1. Thank you Lulu! I've always adored Van Gogh's paintings and find his letters so earnest and deeply moving. The café is located in a lovely square (Place du Forum) perfect for just as you said - drinking in a September evening ;)

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  2. The mirrored scene is fascinating in its details and lights.

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    1. Totally agree with you Daydreamer, I was surprised myself to see the same beautiful golden light and indigo-blue sky. Fascinating indeed...

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  3. I too adore the side-by-side contrast. And that quote - LOVE! So beautifully done...

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    1. Why thank you Jamie! I'm so delighted you came by to visit! The quote is certainly an inspiring one... a good reminder when shooting photographs ;)

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  4. What a gorgeous juxtaposition of images, Catherine! It's like they all melted together into one scene. Brilliant! p.s. loving the yellows and blues:)

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    1. Merci Charmaine, I love the way you put that! This was sort of like an excercise in art imitating art imitating life ;)

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  5. I love the side by side pictures! It is like one picture all mixed together! I love the yellows! So interestingly done!

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    1. Thank you Alexa!! ... The diptych surprised me too, how similar and cohesive the colors are. When the café was renovated about 22 years ago, they made sure the awning's color matched Van Gogh's golden yellow - pretty good job, huh ;)

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  6. These photos of the little town and Van Gogh's cafe terrace are gorgeous! I can't help but wish I could hop on a plane right now and go there. The pictures are so inviting. I love the vivid colors and the mood you captured well with your eloquent piece. Thanks for sharing & thanks for the blog-visit ~ so kind of you!

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    1. Thank YOU Elizabeth! Always a great pleasure to have you stop by ;)

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