Beautiful Art Mugs: Coffee Mugs with Reproductions of Artworks by Van Gogh, Monet, Degas

by Mira

High-quality colorful, vibrant coffee mugs with reproductions of famous paintings, which make nice gifts for art lovers. Here’s some info on Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas as well.

Art mugs are nice ways to keep favorite paintings close. They’re even better than fridge magnets because they are a little bigger and, well, more functional too. Artworks make objects like coffee mugs things of both function and beauty. While there’s a disconnect here between the two qualities, as beauty doesn’t follow function, there is, however, something to be said about art reproductions on mugs. The outer band on a regular mug (rather than a sculptural one, such as those on mugs for children) lends itself well to displays of color or text. It is, in fact, one of today’s blank canvases and Web sites as Zazzle, where designers and buyers can customize 250+ types of products, serve this need we have to make mugs our own, to decorate them with what pleases our eye and our soul. Mugs – and T-shirts, mousepads, etc. – sell on Zazzle because people need to have personal statements on personal objects. Artworks that you like are such personal statements.

This article will include a few examples of mugs with paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Edgar Degas.

Van Gogh, Starry Night over the Rhone (1888)
Van Gogh, Starry Night over the Rhone (1888)
Wikimedia Commons

Vincent van Gogh

Starry Night over the Rhone mug

Vincent van Gogh

Starry Night over the Rhone (1888)

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted his famous Starry Night in June 1989, when he was a patient in the St. Paul’s asylum near Saint-Rémy in Provence. It was inspired by a view of the night sky, with the Morning Star shining bright, from his window. The actual scenery in the painting is partly invented, and partly derived from Dutch village architecture.

The painting is now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This is not his only starry nights. He loved the swirls in the sky, the powerful spots of bright yellow, the contrast between the yellow color and the dark blue tones of a sky at night.

His other two famous paintings with night views and star-studded skies are Café Terrace at Night and Starry Night over the Rhone, both painted in September 1888 in Arles.

If you want to see a really good movie about Van Gogh, I recommend Robert Altman’s 1990 film Vincent & Theo, with Tim Roth as van Gogh and Paul Rhys as his brother Theo.

Vincent & Theo (1990)


Vincent & Theo (1990)

Instant video

Claude Monet's Water Lilies (1906)

The Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted over 250 Water Lilies. The famous image shown below, dating from 1906, is now exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago. It doesn’t go around the mug because it’s almost square in shape. Beware of mugs where this image is stretched to fit the entire girth of the mug – the result is rather ugly. Note that you can increase the size of the artwork to get it closer to the rim. You can also move the image to the right, if you want to.

Monet painted his “water landscapes,” as he referred to them, in his garden at Giverny between 1899 and 1926. In the last years of his life his sight was severely affected by cataracts. The images become larger and larger, and rather blurry.

Monet, Water Lilies (1906)
Monet, Water Lilies (1906)
Wikimedia Commons

The coloring also suffered. It was harder and harder for him to distinguish between colors. They also appeared to him less intense. All this explains the choice of colors and tonal intensity of his paintings of that period.

He eventually got two cataract surgeries in 1923, and then proceeded to destroy much of the work impacted by his damaged eyesight.

There’s sheer beauty in Water Lilies (1906), in the choice of subject, colors, and the perspective that plunges towards us, revealing only the water surface and nothing above, as if we were bent over the water, looking only a little further ahead. There’s also the shimmering brushwork.

Claude Monet

Water Lilies (1906) mug

Edgar Degas, Ballet Dancers

Like Monet, Edgar Degas (1834-1917) had a failing eyesight, which became manifest as early as the 1880s. In the last decades of his life, his pastels become looser and looser. The quality of the brushstrokes in his paintings may suggest that he was a spontaneous artist like Monet. But nothing could be further from the truth. “No art was less spontaneous than mine,” Degas said. His paintings and drawings are carefully composed, and they are inventions rather than quick renderings of fleeting scenes. Degas, this painter of ballet dancers (whom he represented in more than half of his works), who observed them at the old Paris Opera as they were performing on stage, rehearsing or relaxing, brought much to the final compositions from memory or various sketches done at different times. When the Paris Opera was destroyed in a fire in 1873, he continued to use it as a setting in his works.

Degas is beautiful not only for his brushstrokes or the wonderful quality of his pastels, but also for his compositions: asymmetrical, with unusual viewpoints, and bodies cropped at the margins, showing the influence of both Japanese woodcut prints, which circulated in 19th-century (van Gogh had a whole collection of them) and the medium of photography, which Eadweard James Muybridge used to capture motion. Degas’s paintings, while not quick representations of a moment in time, were, however, about showing the beauty of many stolen moments in the life of the ballet corps of the Paris Opera.

Degas, Dancer in Green (1877-79)
Degas, Dancer in Green (1877-79)

Degas Mug

Ballet Rehearsal (1873)

Degas Mug

The Star / Dancer on Stage (c. 1878) and Swaying Dancer / Dancer in Green (mirrored) (1877-79)
Updated: 06/08/2014, Mira
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Mira on 06/08/2014

Yes, they're nice, aren't they? I'm still not sure it's 100% OK to make them (I'm thinking of copyright issues), but from what I've read, the designers should be fine.

cazort on 06/08/2014

One of my friends has one of these Van Gogh mugs; I think they're beautiful!

Mira on 05/09/2014

Oh, I love forsythia yellow! :) And yes, looking at various shades of color in nature is fascinating :)

Guest on 05/09/2014

Mira, Playing with colors must be as beguiling for painters as it is for their viewers. I hope that you do take up painting!
I'm always checking on the rgb (red-green-blue) formulae for colors, especially those based in nature such as, for example, forsythia yellow, and it's interesting to see variations in standard formulae -- all thanks to someone's experimentation and creativity.

Mira on 05/05/2014

Oh yes, that midnight blue is absolutely stunning. Sometimes I think I would like to take up painting only to play with such evocative colors!! Which don't simply come out of a tube :)

Guest on 05/05/2014

Mira, It stunned me to discover other paintings by Vincent Van Gogh that did not have his trademark strokes. He was a brilliant artist, largely self-taught, who mastered many styles and then devised his own.
For me, the lit buildings along the shore and the couple in the foreground are the elements which contribute to the beauty of this particular painting. And the blueness. Vincent Van Gogh had an understanding of midnight blue that was unique.

Mira on 05/05/2014

Yes, it's a really nice painting. What I love in Van Gogh's work is the variety of strokes that he mastered in his drawings, prints and paintings. Here, I'm especially attracted by the lit buildings along the shore and that couple in the foreground.

Guest on 05/05/2014

Mira, Art looks good on coffee mugs. Your selections give a great idea of mugs as a great "canvas" for art. I'm happy to see Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night over the Rhone." Much as I do like his more famous "Starry Night," my preference has always been for the Rhone scene.

Mira on 02/07/2014

Thanks, Jo! I hope it's alright. Am not doing any myself, but I see many do. And Zazzle is quick to take action if it gets word of copyright infringement.

Jo_Murphy on 02/06/2014

Hi Mira, It is a great way to keep great paintings with all of the time. I was worried about copyright too. But it seems to be OK. Nice! Jo

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