Tarascon Stagecoach, 1888
In a letter to his brother Theo in October 1888, Van Gogh described the genesis of this painting, even providing a small sketch so that Theo could get a sense of the composition. He explained that the subject was inspired in part by Alphonse Daudet’s novel Tartarin of Tarascon, which features an old stagecoach, or diligence. He also discussed his technique and some of the artistic influences on the painting, including Claude Monet and Adolphe Monticelli:
Have you re-read the Tartarins yet? Ah, don’t forget to! Do you remember in Tartarin the lament of the old Tarascon diligence—that wonderful page? Well, I’ve just painted that red and green carriage in the yard of the inn . . .
The two carriages very colorful: green, red, wheels yellow, black, blue, orange . . . The carriages are painted in the style of Monticelli, with impastos. You once had a very beautiful Claude Monet, of four colourful boats on a beach. Well, here it’s carriages, but the composition is of the same kind.