The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is currently having different exhibitions






The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is currently having different exhibitions ongoing where most are to end in august and September. Among the current exhibitions are paintings, sculptures and photographs with different themes and agendas. One of the current exhibitions are Vincent van Gogh: His Life in Art where the museum showcases various paintings done by him on various occasions including travelling. Vincent Van Gough is a famous Dutch artist who did paintings in the 19th century. He was passionate about his work and in less than two decades, Van Gough had done over 2100 paintings whereby there were over 850 oil paintings mounted on canvas. It is believed that in his last two years of his life he managed to do over fifty paintings. The Van Gough survey opened on March 10th and it is expected to end on July 27th. The painting of interest that the paper is going to discuss is “Vincent van Gogh, In the Café: Agostina Segatori in Le Tambourin, January–March 1887, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).” ( There are both physical features and deeper meaning that the paining tries to describe.

In the painting, Van Gough used Agostina Segatori as his model. She was a famous model to various artists including Edward Mamet, Jean Baptiste among other artists. The venue of the portrait is said to be her restaurant where exhibitions were made. According to sources her café was a meeting point for various artists including Van Gough. Since her cafe was a meeting point for various artists, she allowed them to display their work in the Café just in case someone decided to purchase them.  Agostina accepted paintings and other forms of art as payment for meals and drinks in case the artists went short of money. Van Gough was not an exception.

Physical Features of the Painting

The painting shows a woman at a café seated holding a cigarette with his arms on the table. The woman appears to be a middle age adult in her thirty’s. There is a glass of beer on a saucer and there is one empty saucer on the table. The woman is wearing a brown coat, one cannot clearly tell whether she is wearing a dress or a skirt but from the look of things it appears to be dark green in color. On the far right we can see two table chairs next to the wall. The woman is seated on a round table and there are three round traditional seats of the time of around mid-19th century. On one of the seats there is what appears to be a broom, (one cannot tell exactly what it is). On the wall just next to where the lady is seated there is what appears to be some pictures on the wall (

According to MFAH museum the painting that is on exhibition has dimensions of 55.5 cm x 47 cm ( It is an oil on canvas type of painting. An oil painting is paint made up of ground up pigments suspended in a binding medium of oil. The painting has most of the parts in dull colors whereby the wall has different shades of green, grey and blue. Red and white is scarce on the wall. The lady’s face has a bright color and she has a red hair on. We cannot tell whether this is the exact color or Van Gough used it so as to enhance the theme or make the hair visible.

History of the Painting

It is believed that Van Gough drew the painting of the lady who goes by the name Agostina Segatori while in the café owned by the woman. The painting was drawn in January at Le Tambourin café, but the complete work was in March, thus we can say he took three months to complete her painting. Van Gough had requested the Agostina to allow him display his paintings in her café then later requested her to pause for him to draw. Agostina is believed to have had an affair with Van Gough back in 1880s at the time when she was running the Le Tambourin restaurant. Van Gough in that month had an exhibition in the café where he was going to sell his Japanese collection. At the background of the painting we can see Japanese prints thus it is believed that he did the painting during that time.

The restaurant was a meeting point for various Pakistan artists thus Van Gough decided to do an exhibition of his paintings in the café. We happen to understand that the artists exchanged paintings and bus tickets for his meals. During the exhibition, less of his paintings were bought and in July the same year, he termed the project as a failure. The above painting of interest is one of the paintings among the two paintings of Agostina Segatori drawn by Van Gough during his exhibition (Leinbach, pg. 19). One can say it was in exchange of the favor granted by the lady for him to do his business in the restaurant.

As for now we expect the oil painting to be dry since they take approximately sixty years for the pigments to completely dry. The painting is 132 years old. Despite the age, the painting looks clear enough to display the theme intended by Van Gough which will be discussed later in the paper.

Rhetorical Analysis of the Painting by Van Gough.

Van Gough did his best to attract the audience to view the image. The author painted this picture in a manner that emphasizes focus on the woman who happens to be drinking and smoking at the same time. Also, the painting of Agostina’s body seems to be clear compare to all the other objects in the room. This was to emphasize that he painting was all about her and nothing else. Overall, the shot of this image is strategic, and it plays on the audience’s belief that this particular location is scenic; hence a majority of the people would love to visit the museum and view it physically after seeing it on the website. The use of organization of information in this picture contributes to pathos as this image sparks interest and desire among the audience to visit this MFAH (Leinbach, pg. 23). Also, the way in which this picture was painted adds to ethos as it proves that the author not only takes paints images, but he is also strategic about the angles and paints to use in order to display the lighting and other features at the moment he did paint. Therefore, this picture is persuasive as sparks the audience’s interest.

It is clear that Van Gough painted Agostina while he was so close to her. This is so because, her image is larger compared to other objects and due to the closeness =, some features such as legs and the floor where she is being not seen. We can see the floor far away where the chairs are. This proves that the author wanted to make the woman appear larger, thus dominant and emphasize it is all about her and not the restaurant nor the Japanese prints on the walls.

Despite the painting concentrating mainly on Agostina, the artists failed to include the fact that there could be people in the restaurant. At least he could have some sketches of one or two people to show that it is a café where the exhibitions were done. We can see the lady with a beer on the table, perhaps there is somebody who did serve her (Meissner, pg. 278). The restaurant does not look like a busy one since there are some basic features like the ones mentioned above which are excluded.

Generally, Van Gough did a very quality painting that highlighted his character as an impressionist. He gave an impression about Agostina as a sad person. We get to see the theme of loneliness in the whole painting. Everything is dull that is why he uses dull colors and we can tell that it is at night when the lady was painted (Sabbeth, pg. 32). The dull colors reduce the lighting in the room where the art was developed. If he would have used dull colors and a sad picture of Agostina, then there would be a lot of irony in the painting. Bright colors such as white, luminous green, red sky blue and so on are used to lighten up the mood of the audience and the models in the piece of art. Black, dark grey, jungle green and similar darker shades are used to create a dull mood for both the audience and the art itself. Thus he utilized these feature to create mood.

Interpretation of the painting

Van Gough paints a white lady who is decently dressed. She is a coat and a long dress that hides her legs and most part of her arms. However, we see a lonely lady who is drinking alone. When one is drinking it is a culture that he or she must have a company (Sabbeth, pg. 31). There are two empty seats around her. Perhaps it was Agostina’s culture to be a loner. On the upper note, maybe he painted the image adhering to the model alone so that his theme and impressions of the painting would come out clearly. Maybe if he included all the features in the restaurant, he would have a confusing image.

In the painting we see a lady who seems sad. Van Gough was keen enough to pain the eyes and the whole face with correct contours which brought out the sad face of Agostina. To enhance the fact that she might be going through a moment of sadness, Van Gough includes in the painting a cigarette, beer and two saucepans. From the look of things, it is evident that Agostina is on her second beer because of the one empty saucepan (Meissner, pg. 278). She cannot be smoking and drinking at the same time, that is why one is justified to judge the sad face.

Also in the painting, the Agostina is properly dressed implying in the 19th century when the painting was drawn people had begun to dress well and civilization was at peak. Clothing businesses are depicted in the picture to have grown and coffee selling business was progressing well in the Turkish coffee house because of the many people in the painting. It shows an era where beer was a common thing which was taken by the ladies. The era is that of civilization since currently, beer is taken is similar glasses and there exists sauce pans in the 21st century.

The painting is used to showcase the culture of Italian women during the 1880s. We can see from Agostina that they were decently dressed that is they covered most parts of their bodies. Agostina is having a fashionable outfit that existed during those days. We see her parasol lying on the stool and her hat is held up in position with pins, indeed she was an outgoing woman who would dress up to give a good image to his clients in the Cafe she managed. However, drinking was not an exception to them, just like the 20th and 21st century, women went drinking at night like the men did (Leinbach, pg. 22). We are told that the restaurant is called Tambourine perhaps the owner decides to embrace the name by using tambourine tops on chairs and tables. This is clearly evident from the environment at which Agostina is seated. We can conclude that this was a cultural restaurant that is why most of the furniture were from a specific Italian culture.


Through this image, various individuals in his audiences can conclude diverse opinions on this image; thus their conclusions are purely based on their views, and the ideas they think the author is trying to portray. The painting by Van Gough is well painted and at the museum am sure everyone would want to view it. More so, it is in a historical setting of 1880s. We all want to get a glimpse of what used to happen in the past especially how people spent their leisure and for this case, Van Gough gives us a glimpse of it. The passion and power of painting in his art is familiar to all art lovers not to forget his love for women as his models in his paintings. Besides Agostina, we have other women like the portrait of a woman in a straw hat.

Work of art of Interest

Vincent van Gogh, In the Café: Agostina Segatori in Le Tambourin, January–March 1887, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Works Cited, Cade. “10 Pieces for Vincent: A Suite for Mixed Chamber Ensemble.” (2018).

Meissner, W, W. “Love and Sexuality in the Life and Art of Vincent van Gogh.” Annual of Psychoanalysis 26 (1999): 269-294.

Sabbeth, Carol. Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities. Chicago Review Press, 2011.