The story behind the famous Van Gogh trilogy of the Starry Nights

Starry NightDutch artist Vincent Van Gogh painted Cafe Terrace at Night, also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, as well as Starry Night Over the Rhone and the subsequent Starry Night towards the end of the 19th century while living in Arles France. Café Terrace was the first, painted in 1888. Using oil paint on canvas, Café Terrace at Night, was 32 inches by 26 inches. The original Café Terrace Van Gogh painting now hangs in Otterlo, Netherlands in the Kroller-Muller Museum.

Caffe TerraceThe Café Terrace is a real café in Arles and its name is now Café Van Gogh. The painting in the Café Terrace at Night is one unique for Van Gogh in that its colors show warmth and the perspective shows unusual depth. It is the first Van Gogh painting that included stars as a background. That same month he painted another star filled sky in his famous Starry Night over the Rhone. Starry Night was painted the following year, 1889. Once more after that stars filled the background of a Van Gogh painting, in his Portrait of Eugene Boch.

Starry Night Over the RhoneThe challenge of night painting was intriguing to Vincent Van Gogh. In Starry Night he captured the gas light reflections across the Rhone River’s blue water. The sky above the scene is lit by the Ursa Major constellation, also known as the Great Bear. In the painting’s foreground lovers stroll along the riverbanks.
Depiction of color was very important to Van Gogh. His Café Terrace at Night and both Starry Night paintings show the effort he put into capturing the sparkle and the color of the sky at night and the artificial lighting just introduced to his era.

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.