Tarascon Stagecoach, 1888

Vincent van Gogh, Dutch, 1853–1890

Tarascon Stagecoach, 1888

Oil on canvas
The Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum
photo: Bruce M. White

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.

Vincent van Gogh, Dutch, 1853–1890. Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh with sketch of <em>Tarascon Stagecoach</em>, 1888 Arles. Pen and black ink, 20.7 x 13.5 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli, French, 1824–1886. <em>Seascape Near Marseille (Fantastic Village)</em>, ca.1882. Oil on canvas. São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo, Brazil

Claude Monet, French, 1840–1926. <em>Fishing Boats at Étretat</em>, 1885. Oil on canvas, 73.7 x 91.4 cm. Seattle Art Museum, Partial and promised gift of an anonymous donor / Image courtesy the Seattle Art Museum.