'Cafe Terrace at Night' With Incredible Secret Meanings
Vincent Van Gogh, most known for “Starry Night” and losing his left ear, may have left one final secret up his sleeve.
His iconic painting “Cafe Terrace at Night” depicts a group of anonymous patrons enjoying an evening in Arles, France.
So why is it special?
Yet new research suggests that the individuals lurking in the group of 12 — with a central, long-haired figure, another departing in the shadows and golden lookers-on — may not be so nameless after all.
Yes, it’s possible that one of van Gogh’s most famous artworks contains an allusion to an even more famous painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
From an early age, Van Gogh was extremely religious. His father was a Protestant minister.
However at the age of 27 or 28, van Gogh began creating art in earnest, quickening the pace to complete nearly 900 works in the decade before his death in 1890.
Independent researcher Jared Baxter holds a few theories on van Gogh’s use of religious symbolism.
Baxter essentially believes that van Gogh subtly inserted da Vinci’s “Last Supper” — or at least the “genre” of Last Supper paintings, which often had different compositions of diners and Judas departing— into “Cafe Terrace at Night.”
What follows here is the part of Baxter’s argument, as explained to The Huffington Post, so be prepared to get sucked down a Dan Brown-esque rabbit hole.
1. Van Gogh included potentially religious elements after the original sketch of “Cafe Terrace at Night.”
Around the time of working on “Cafe Terrace at Night,” van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo van Gogh, explaining that he had a “tremendous need for, shall I say the word — for religion,” with direct reference to the painting.
In his first sketch of the work (above right), van Gogh essentially outlined a cafe terrace at night, but the finished work (above left) has some alterations.
In the final work, a shadowy figure can be seen leaving through the doorway. Van Gogh’s trademark yellow lends itself to the heavenly appearance of the scene, and the lantern above the central figure serves as a halo. The awning is drawn back across the terrace to reveal a cross in the distance.
2. Multiple crosses appear in the painting, a subtle symbolism experienced before by van Gogh.
For “Cafe Terrace at Night,” van Gogh included a similar cross above the central subject, as a singular horizontal muntin holds the panes of glass, unlike the window just across the street. Reaching a bit more, considerable zooming is required to see another cross emblazoned upon the central figure’s chest.
Did van Gogh give a serious nod to da Vinci’s greatest masterpiece in one of his own?
Searching for a definitive answer might be fruitless.
Baxter said he hopes the mystery is a bit like Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code — an enthralling idea any art aficionado could appreciate — that one of the world’s masterpieces has been hidden within another.
Van Gogh may be one of humanity’s most famous artists, and yet our knowledge of his life is as blurry as his “Starry Night.”
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