Tarascon Stage Coach (Tarascon Diligence)
Theo van Gogh (1857–1891); [on consignment to Julien (Père) Tanguy (1825–1894), by 1891]; sold to Medardo Rosso (1858–1928), Paris, by 1895; given to Milo Beretta (1870–1935), Montevideo, 1895; by descent to Beretta’s six heirs, 1935; [sold to Paula (de) Koenigsberg, La Passe Ltd., Buenos Aires, by 8 May 1946]; sold to Henry Pearlman, June 1950; Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, after 1974.
"You used to have a very fine Claude Monet showing four colored boats on a beach. Well, here they are carriages, but the composition is the same in style."
-Vincent van Gogh to his brother, Theo, October 13, 1888
The drama of his mental illness and tragic suicide sometimes overshadows Van Gogh's sophistication as an artist. As this passage from one of his many letters to his brother suggests, he was a thoughtful craftsman, who, like the Impressionists, painted outdoors and demonstrated a mastery of legible brushstrokes, complex compositional devices, and a brilliant palette. At the same time, however, he transformed their style in his own distinctive way - by applying paint in thick marks, crosshatched strokes, and flowing lines of intense color.
The exceptionally well-preserved paint texture in this work ranges from high peaks of thickly impastoed oils (the yellow wall, gray courtyard, and greens of the carriages) to unpainted canvas (between the spokes of the back wheel). Closed shutters suggest that it is siesta time, and short shadows indicate the early afternoon. The inn portrayed is in Arles, midway on the stagecoach’s route.
In 1895 the legendary Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard included "Tarascon Diligence" in an exhibition of the artist's work. Although the show was not a commercial success, it was significant as the first major posthumous Van Gogh exhibition.
Van Gogh writes about Tarascon Diligence in his correspondence: