Café Terrace at Night by Vincent van Gogh
Café Terrace at Night is the first artwork in the well-known Starry Night trilogy of 1888 to 1889 by Vincent van Gogh. The oil painting was painted in Arles, France, on the spot, outdoors, not by memory, during the first two weeks of September and finished on the 16th, 1888.
The piece was never signed by the artist, but art historians proved his authorship based on his letters in which he mentioned the piece three times. The canvas has had two other names: Café, le soir, (Coffeehouse in the Evening), and The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum. It was listed at the first public exhibition in 1891 after van Gogh’s death.
The brightness of night effects were rendered by the master by means of the complementary technique, or contrasting colors—blue, violet, and yellow in this particular case. Fascinated by night and its colorful depth, van Gogh believed in the richness of night hues and achieved the radiance of paints in his masterpiece by avoiding black–the color of darkness and dullness.
Light and night are the queens and the kings in this painting. Like in Starry Night, his last work in the trilogy, the celestial positions in the sky of the painting are accurate, according to astronomical data.
The original café was renovated at the beginning of the 1990s to replicate the painting and keeps attracting admirers of Van Gogh’s talent from all over the world.
The artwork’s current home is the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands.