Cafe Terrace at  Night


Van Gogh was a Post-Impressionist artist born in the Netherlands. He suffered from mental health problems and  committed suicide in 1890.

artwork in context

Night scenes and starry landscapes were one of van Gogh’s keen interests and explorations, coupled with his love of how color created these scenes.

historical overview

Let us make a note about the art movement van Gogh was remembered to have worked in, which was Post-Impressionism.


Van Gogh lived in Paris before moving to Arles where his brother, Theo van Gogh, lived. Theo was an important part of Vincent’s life, as he helped him sell his paintings and helped out financially.

religious fervor?

Some believe he had a need to find a connection with religion. Some also believe that van Gogh made a reference to da Vinci’s The Last Supper (c. 1490).

subject matter

In Café Terrace at Night, van Gogh painted the night scene from his vantage point on the street. Directly ahead of us, on the left-hand side of the painting, we see the café terrace, lit up by a gas lamp.

subject matter

We see the glow of a light bulb through the sliver of windows, but most of the light comes from the forefront of the composition.


An important point is how van Gogh created a shift from his brilliant yellows to his calming blues above by subtly creating green in between, noticed on the building to the left as the lower part meets the upper terrace.


We will also notice van Gogh’s dynamic brushstrokes, which enhance the nightly life of the composition. He also utilized quite thick swathes of paint for some areas.

interesting facts and interpretations

Van Gogh was possibly inspired by the novel Bel-Ami (1885) by Guy de Maupassant and the type of setting that relates to his subject matter for Café Terrace at Night.

a jewel amongst the stars

In Café Terrace at Night, van Gogh painted a scene at night that exemplified his love for color and how this gave the night a new hue.