The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night, is one of the most recognized and quoted works by Vincent van Gogh. Today it rivals only Sunflowers and Starry Night in terms of popularity. Due to its unusual depiction of a starry sky, the Café Terrace At Night echoes other paintings by the artist executed during the same period: Starry Night Over the Rhône and Portriat of Eugene Boch. Stars on these canvases are more like miniature flowers which in a year would produce ‘sunflower’ luminaries and spiral whirls of the Starry Night.Vincent dreamt of producing a nocturnal landscape long before his move to Arles. Another canvas where he features starlit skies is the Starry Night Over the Rhône, created in the same month as the Café Terrace At Night.
There is a legend saying that Vincent van Gogh put candles in his straw hat to have enough light to paint this work on the spot at night. In a letter to his sister Wilhelmina, he wrote about this canvas: “Here you have a night picture without any black in it, done with nothing but beautiful blue and violet and green, and in these surroundings the lighted square acquires a pale sulphur and greenish citron-yellow colour. It amuses me enormously to paint the night right on the spot.”