Starry Night over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


Painting NameStarry Night over the Rhone
Painter NameVincent Van Gogh
Completion Date1888
Place of CreationArles, France
Size72.5 cm × 92 cm (28.5 in × 36.2 in)
Current LocationMusée d'Orsay Paris

Painting executed in the same city and in the same month, in which the Café Terrace at Night was produced, Starry Night over the Rhone captures a different view and different angle of the beautiful city cited in Paris. Rhone – that which rollsis an important river running through Arles. Its importance and the beauty at night maybe allured the artist to illustrate it with oil on his canvas.

Van Gogh has never tried to depict scene in their natural conditions. He always twisted the scenes and added imaginary colors and portions to the scene to get the exact impact he willed for. Adding artificial color to the image was a new idea in his time and Van Gogh used it very well in most of his works. Here, as he described in one of his letters to his brother, the depiction consists just a friction of realism while everything else is impressionism or post-impressionism which he acquire in all of his later works. The colors of the sky, water and land in foreground almost looks the same when instead the real landscape had the colors of aquamarine, royal blue and mauve respectively. It is a mark of his artistic understanding about the scene to make it more soothing to eyes. The position of the stars in the sky is formative as the stars in the middle are the members of the constellation called Ursa Major or the Great Bear as artist mentioned it in his letter. Though, in reality, by looking at the real place the Ursa Major constellation is not situated at the place artist has depicted. Maybe we can call it Artificial Displacements.

The Rhone is sparkling with the gas-lights of the city lined in the backdrop adding some glitter to the scene. We can say that the reason to choose night for portrayal could be this special light effect as it connects and emphasizes the relation between the city and the river. The city is dependent on the river while the river feels more thriving when a city filled with auspicious people is breathing on its banks. The reflecting light on the smooth surface of the river is just a perfect symbol to depict such relation.

Well, there is more in the picture which doesn’t catch our eyes instantly but when we see them it gives the painting a new height of meaning. There are three sailing-boats anchored near the strand with high-rising masts and two lovers at the very foreground facing towards us. These elements add an emotional touch as the couple is strolling at the beach and the sailing boats are there which can take them in the middle of the river isolating them with the real world.

That being said, the work of art ranks among the artist’s most applauded paintings as it consists artist’s signature style of the glittering sky.


Leave a Reply