In Paris in 1886 and 1887, Vincent is seeing the end of the Impressionist Exhibitions where Monet, Degas and Renoir have established themselves as the leaders out of the classical and into the modern. Vincent respects this old guard and calls them the artists of the Grand Boulevard. He sees himself and his contemporary post-impressionist artists of the time as the painters of the “petit boulevard” in contrast to their more famous predecessors.
While the established impressionists present their art along the avenues of the wealthy, Vincent and his younger painting friends can afford only the more bohemian and working class neighborhoods on the outskirts of central Paris. Absinthe and tobacco filled nights discussing pointillism and impressionism and the influence of Japanese art are in the air in the garish cabarets on and just down the hill from the rebellious Parisian enclave of Montmartre. New palettes of colors becoming available and pre-mixed in tubes brighten canvases and artists search for the essence of scenes or subjects that cannot be expressed in the daguerreotype photographs of the day.
Henri de Toulouse Lautrec holds court in Le Mirliton, Le Chat Noir and the Moulin de la Gallette. He is joined by a number of past students of the Cormon studio: Louis Anquetin, Emile Bernard, Vincent, Guillamin?. Also in the group on many occassions are Camille and Lucien Pissarro, Paul Gauguin George Seurat and Paul Signac. Susan Valadon and Theo would some some nights and with the common denominators being alcohol, modern art discussion and spirited dancing and other activities.