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Van Gogh '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
Musee d'Orsay
One of the world's definitive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, installed in the former Orsay train station.
Renoir ‘Bal du Moulin de la Galette’
This Renoir work is one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces, depicting romantic bourgeois Paris in the 1870s.
Cézanne 'Card Players'
This peaceful Cézanne painting is one of the Post-Impressionist’s most enduring works.
Monet '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.
Rodin 'The Gates of Hell'
The plaster model in the Musée d'Orsay dates from 1917 and was inspired by the famous doors that Ghiberti had made for the baptistery in Florence.
Manet 'The Luncheon on the Grass'
Though a seemingly mundane scene, by placing an anonymous unclothed woman in an everyday setting, Manet re-contextualized the age-old subject and redefined what constitutes fine art, with a hint of irony.

Related Tours

Private Musée d'Orsay Tour with tickets included
Escape the bustle and step into the Golden Age of art in the Musée D’Orsay to enjoy one of the world’s greatest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. On your private tour of the museum, you will: 

  • Fully guided tour with an expert local guide and tickets included
  • Enjoy the highlights of the museum, focusing on the best work of the impressionists
  • See Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Degas’ Ballerina, Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, and one of Monet’s Waterlily pieces
  • Find yourself in front of an other-worldly clock, with stunning vistas over Paris
  • See the model for the Opera Garnier, designed by Carpeaux
  • Stand in front of Thomas Couture Les Romains de la Décadence – the museum’s largest painting
  • Enjoy time at your leisure to explore the museum after your tour has finished
  • Free for Children ages 4-11
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 and 1914. 

During the tour, your expert guide will help you navigate this huge collection to land you in front of the world-famous pieces housed in the museum. You will see numerous works by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, while learning how each generation of artists has influenced the next. Explore the most iconic artworks in the world, including 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. After your guided tour, feel free to further explore the vast museum and its beautiful work at your own pace. 
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