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. Even 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.” Read the complete letter
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, dressed in white, can be seen standing beside the billiard table in the work. 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. Using one of Gauguin's drawings, Vincent made more portraits of her while in the asylum in Saint-Rémy.
When Vincent left Arles for Saint-Rémy on 8 May, he was permitted to store the Yellow House's furniture at the Café de la Gare. He visited the Ginouxs twice and also wrote to them during his stay in the asylum.
Tips & remarks