Vincent took the initiative of organising an exhibition of art by Louis Anquetin, Émile Bernard, Arnold Hendrik Koning, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and himself at the Grand Bouillon-Restaurant du Chalet. The popular restaurant on Avenue de Clichy served simple, inexpensive meals, and Vincent often went there in 1887.
All the participants were what Vincent referred to as artists of the “petit boulevard”. In other words, they worked in the area of Montmartre around the Boulevard de Clichy and Boulevard de Rochechouart and showed their art in small venues such as cafés and restaurants, in contrast to the artists of the “grand boulevard”, like Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro, whose reputations were established and whose work was exhibited by major gallerists such as Durand-Ruel, Georges Petit, and Boussod, Valadon & Cie on the chic boulevards around Place de L’Opéra.
The exhibition was destined to be brief, for Vincent fell out with the restaurant’s owner, Etienne-Lucien Martin. Martin told Vincent the paintings were putting diners off their food. Vincent responded by packing up all the art and taking it back to his flat on Rue Lepic. Vincent had painted a portrait of Martin before the row, probably intending to present it to him as a thank-you gift, but he did not do so.
In some ways, however, the show was successful. Vincent wrote afterward that he did not regret his efforts:
“Bernard having sold his first painting there, Anquetin having sold a study there, and I having made the exchange with Gauguin, we all got something.” Read the complete letter
The restaurant went bankrupt on 30 June 1888.
Vincent drew four known sketches on the back of the Restaurant du Chalet’s menu; these include Nude Woman Squatting over a Basin.