Beer In Art #164: Vincent Van Gogh’s Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin

Today’s artwork is another painting by one of the world’s most well-known artists, Vincent Van Gogh. This one is a portrait entitled Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin, completed in 1887. Today it hangs in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Holland.


Here’s how Wikipedia describes the work:

In the painting Agostina, a woman in her forties, can be seen smoking a cigarette while having her second glass of beer, evidenced by two saucers under the mug of beer. In demeanor and style, such as her clothing, make-up and hairstyle, she is a modern woman. She is wearing a fashionable hat. According to the style at the time, her jacket is a different design than her dress. A parasol sits on one of the seats next to her.

Van Gogh used the theme of a woman sitting at a small table, introduced by Impressionists, such as Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet. The table and stools were in the shape of tambourines, befitting the café’s theme. On the wall behind her are Van Gogh’s Japanese prints, which he began exhibiting at the café in February, 1887. The brightly colored painting and confident subject represent a shift in Van Gogh’s attitude, in comparison to his previous subjects, such as were dark, tragic peasants.

And apparently Van Gogh was very familiar with both the Café du Tambourin and its owner, Agostina Segatori, who had also been a model for Edouard Manet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and other artists. More from Wikipedia:

[The Café du Tambourin] was a gathering spot for Parisian artists, a place where their work was exhibited. Van Gogh, unable to pay in cash for his meals, exchanged paintings for meals. The paintings then adorned the restaurant. He held a special exhibit of his Japanese prints in the café as well. His connection with Agostina and the cafe came to a sad end when she went bankrupt and Van Gogh’s paintings were confiscated by creditors. This painting, however, demonstrates an artistic discovery that culminated in his unique, creative style not quite on the brink of being understood and revered.

I can’t tell if she’s trying to relax after a long day, or having a quick smoke and a coiple of beers in order to face her shift behind the bar. Based on the expression on her face, it could be either.

For more about Vincent Van Gogh, Wikipedia is a good place to start, though there’s even more at the Vincent Van Gogh Gallery, which has a complete list of his works. There are also tons of links at the ArtCyclopedia and another biography at the Web Museum.

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