In the café: Agostina Segatori in Le tambourin, 1887

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Oil on Canvas, 55.5 x 46.5 cm
  • Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
  • F 370

A strikingly-dressed woman is shown seated at a small table, smoking a cigarette and staring into space. The tambourine-shaped tables and bar-stools tell us that she is in the Café du Tambourin on the Boulevard de Clichy. The woman depicted is probably Agostina Segatori, the owner of this café frequented by Van Gogh and his friends. The artist paid for his meals with flower still lifes, which were then hung on the walls. It was here that Van Gogh’s paintings were seen by the public for the first time.

Vincent may have had an affair with ‘La Segatori’, an Italian by birth, although this is by no means certain. Some of the letters seem to indicate that they were more than just friends.

More information about "In the café: Agostina Segatori in Le tambourin"

Café scenes

Parisian nightlife and scenes of people in restaurants, bars and nightclubs were popular subjects with Impressionist artists like Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The latter painted a portrait of Van Gogh with a glass of absinthe - probably also in the Café du Tambourin. He also made a painting of a woman at a café table which Van Gogh probably saw before starting his picture of ‘La Segatori’ Both works are executed in a loose, impressionistic manner, and the figure has been placed on the canvas in a similar position.

Agostina Segatori’s portrait was painted over another work. In the x-ray we can clearly see a large-scale portrait of a woman underneath.

The exhibition of Japanese prints

On the wall behind Agostina are a number of vaguely-depicted artworks. At the far right are two female figures reminiscent of Japanese courtesans. Van Gogh was very impressed by Japanese art. In the spring of 1887 he organized an exhibition of his own collection of Japanese prints in the Café du Tambourin which, he himself noted, had an enormous influence on his friends Emile Bernard and Louis Anquetin. The figures in the corner seem to make reference to this exhibition.

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