Cafe at Arlies, 1888 by Paul Gauguin

'Van Gogh, without losing on inch of his originality, gained a fruitful lesson from me. And each day he would thank me for it...' The extraordinary arrogance of Gauguin seems not to have overly concerned Van Gogh, who acknowledged the debt he owed to studying Gauguin's work and treated the artist with the same type of reverence he had reserved for Millet and Eugene Delacroix. However, not all of Gauguin's lessons were so readily absorbed by Van Gogh, who struggled with his friend' Synthetism and was happier and more successful in pointing directly from the motif, rather than from memory.

Gauguin was not particularly pleased with this painting, but Van Gogh greatly admired it and painted L'Arlesienn in 1890, modelling his figure on that of Gauguin's. Gauguin did not share his friend's enthusiasm for Aries and the south of France, although he was drawn to the local women, who were renowned for their beouty. He also liked the traditional simple black and white dress that the women wore, partly because it was similar in many ways to the Breton women from Gauguin's stay in Brittany,