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article imageNew book suggests Van Gogh's ear was cut off by Paul Gauguin

By Julian Worker     May 4, 2009 in Entertainment
The French artist Paul Gauguin was an expert fencer. His sword skills may have led to him cutting off Vincent van Gogh's left ear. They had a fight after Gauguin told Van Gogh he was leaving Arles for good due to Vincent's aggressive behaviour.
Besides his stunning self-portraits the post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh is best known for hacking his own ear off with a razor after arguing with his friend Paul Gauguin. However, a new book entitled Van Gogh's Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence disputes this explanation for Vincent losing his left ear. Two Hamburg-based art historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans argue in their book that the accepted version of events contains inconsistencies.
The two German academics have reviewed the police investigations, eye-witness accounts and artists' letters, and now believe that Gauguin probably sliced off Vincent’s ear with his sword during a fight.
The problems began in 1888 when Van Gogh persuaded Gauguin to travel to Arles and stay with him in the ‘Yellow House’ that contained his studio. It seems they spent the autumn happily painting together. As with many relationships though, the two artists fell out during the Christmas period. Van Gogh suffered from a metabolic disorder and became so aggressive that Gauguin told him he was leaving forever. They then had the fight. What can’t be established is whether the ear slicing was deliberate or accidental.
What is known is that after the ear was detached from his face, the bloodied Van Gogh walked to a brothel and gave the ear to a prostitute called Rachel.
More about Vincent van gogh, Paul gauguin, Ear cut off, Artists, Post-impressionist
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