Le café de nuit (The Night Café) Artist: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, active France, 1853–1890)

1888

European Art

On view, 2nd floor, European Art

In a letter to his brother written from Arles in the south of France, van Gogh described the Café de l’Alcazar, where he took his meals, as “blood red and dull yellow with a green billiard table in the center, four lemon yellow lamps with an orange and green glow. Everywhere there is a clash and contrast of the most disparate reds and greens.” The clashing colors were also meant to express the “terrible passions of humanity” found in this all-night haunt, populated by vagrants and prostitutes. Van Gogh also felt that colors took on an intriguing quality at night, especially by gaslight: in this painting, he wanted to show how “the white clothing of the café owner, keeping watch in a corner of this furnace, becomes lemon yellow, pale and luminous green.”

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

28 1/2 × 36 1/4 in. (72.4 × 92.1 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903

Accession Number

1961.18.34

Culture
Period

19th century

Classification
Disclaimer

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

Provenance

Provenance

Theo van Gogh (1857–1891), Paris, 1889; by descent to Johanna van Gogh-Bonger (1862–1925), Amsterdam, 1891; sold to Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1907. Sale, The Golden Fleece, Moscow, April–May 1908; sold to Ivan Abramovich Morozov (1871–1921), Moscow, 1908; transferred to the Museum of Modern Western Art, Moscow, 1919; acquired by Matthiesen Gallery, Berlin; with Knoedler and Company, New York, by 1933; sold to Stephen Carlton Clark (1882–1960), New York, 1933; bequeathed to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1961
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Object copyright
Additional information

Signed

[LR] "Vincent / le cafe de nuit"

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