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'Starry Night Over the Rhone'

This painting is one of the highlights from the Musée d'Orsay’s Van Gogh collection.

TravelCurious Tip

Admire Van Gogh’s distinctive brush strokes. You can feel the stress and the urgency behind them. He often used paint impasto — straight from the tube

Starry Night Over the Rhone is among Vincent Van Gogh’s most beautiful works. He painted it at a spot on the bank of the Rhone just two minutes from the Yellow House, where he was living at the time. The night sky and the light on the water were favoured subjects of Van Gogh: he returned to them in Cafe Terrace at Night and another, later canvas from Saint-Rémy, The Starry Night.


Van Gogh was a troubled man, and much of what we know of him comes from his correspondences with his brother, Theo, and his unrequited love. His letters paint the scene almost as well as his brush, and he has an artist’s sensitivity to colour:


“The sky is aquamarine, the water is royal blue, the ground is mauve. The town is blue and purple. The gas is yellow and the reflections are russet gold descending down to green-bronze. On the aquamarine field of the sky the Great Bear is a sparkling green and pink, whose discreet paleness contrasts with the brutal gold of the gas. Two colourful figurines of lovers in the foreground.”


You can visit the same site in Arles, in the south of France, today; it remains quite similar to how it was in 1888, when Van Gogh painted it. You will still see the distinctive shore line, the Trinquetaille bridge and, at night, the Ursa Major constellation glowing overhead. The painting itself is exhibited at the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris.


There is a lovely but sadly untrue story that Van Gogh used to paint these night sky scenes with lit candles on the brim of his hat. Just imagine: what a neighbourhood eccentric he would have been. Unfortunately he actually used gas lanterns instead.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Paris
The Louvre
The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world. Inside you’ll find the jewels of every civilisation since prehistory.
Musee d'Orsay
One of the world's definitive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, installed in the former Orsay train station.
‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’
This Renoir work is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces, depicting romantic bourgeois Paris in the 1870s.
'Card Players'
This peaceful Cézanne painting is one of the Post-Impressionist’s most enduring works.
'Houses of Parliament'
A superlative example of the Impressionist style developed by Claude Monet, depicting the world in a way that no camera ever could.
Les Berges River Path
A pedestrianised recreation pathway along the river's edge

Related Tours

Musée d'Orsay: The World's Finest Collection of Impressionist Art
The Louvre may be the most visited museum in Paris, however the Orsay is probably the most enjoyable. Housed in the Gare d’Orsay, and constructed by Victor Laloux for the 1900 World Fair, the Orsay Museum is one of Paris’ most beloved museums, devoted to a huge breadth of art from between 1848 to 1914. The museum also showcases France’s most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art - indeed the golden age of art in Paris.

  • Escape the bustle and visit one of Paris' most enjoyable and roomy museums.
  • Explore the most complete collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist art in France.
  • Examine key works by Monet and Gaugin with your own expert guide.
During the tour your expert city guide will help you navigate this huge collection to find the absolute best, world-famous as well as lesser known pieces. You will see numerous works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, discovering how these artists influenced the next generation. You will explore the most iconic artworks in the world, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’, Renoir’s ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’, and Cézanne’s 'Card players', and learn from your knowledgeable guide, about the stories behind these artworks and their creators along the way. 
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