On 7 May 1889, Vincent took a room at the Café de la Gare on Place Lamartine at a rate of one franc per night. He had recently begun using the Yellow House as a studio. Though Vincent became friendly with the café’s owners, Joseph and Marie Ginoux, it did not stop him from arguing with them over his belief that he was paying too much:
“I’d given a piece of my mind to the said lodging-house keeper, who isn’t a bad man after all, and I’d told him that to get my own back on him for having paid him so much money for nothing, I’d paint his whole filthy old place as a way of getting my money back.”
And so Vincent spent three nights amid the “night owls”, painting The Night Café. He used the complementary colours of red and green in an effort to represent “the terrible human passions”. In the painting, Joseph Ginoux can be seen standing beside the billiard table, wearing white. Paul Gauguin, who came to stay with Vincent at the Yellow House in mid-October, also painted the café. His version shows Marie Ginoux sitting at a table in the foreground.
Vincent and Gauguin regarded Marie Ginoux, with her dark hair and local dress, as a true Arlésienne, and they both painted her portrait. When Vincent was in the asylum in Saint-Rémy, he did so several times, working from a drawing of Gauguin’s.
When Vincent left Arles for Saint-Rémy on 8 May, he stored the furniture from the Yellow House at the Café de la Gare. During his stay in the asylum, he visited the Ginouxs twice and also wrote to them.