Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Did Van Gogh Really Cut Off His Own Ear?

Two historians are now claiming that Van Gogh lost his ear in a fight against fellow artist Paul Gauguin. The new story they have come up with is that the two artists got into a physical dispute outside of a brothel. During the scuffle, Gauguin pulled out his sword to defend himself and chopped off Van Gogh's ear. The two artists made a pact of silence, and neither one of them broke it. To read the full article on this story, visit It is quite a fascinating new discovery.

I have long been a fan of Van Gogh. His work is full of emotion. His bright colors and impressionistic style have been a source of great inspiration and influence for me. I especially love his charcoal drawings of the peasants. There is an emotional connection to his work that is nearly tangible. How fascinating this new theory is! To think that the mentally unstable, and emotionally erratic artist that has been famed the world over for his self-mutilating act, may not have even done it! There is no way to know for sure if Van Gogh cut off his own ear or if Gauguin did it for him. I personally believe that Van Gogh was definitely capable of cutting off his own ear. He suffered from epilepsy, depression, and passionate emotions. After all, he did shoot himself. On the other hand, Gauguin was not known for his relaxed and easy going demeanor. Whether or not Van Gogh was a self-mutilator, or if Gauguin was acting in self defence will remain a mystery.

I have heard an opinion by a fellow artist stating that Van Gogh may not have intentionally shot himself, either. The wheat fields where the incident happened are heavily inhabited with crows. The noise from the birds is enough to drive one insane. Van Gogh often carried a small pistol to scare the crows away while he painted. It is possible that he accidentally shot across his stomach, too distracted by the noise from the crows to realize that he was injuring himself. Once again, it is a possibility, but I am not quite convinced that it was an accident. How does one person have so many dramatic accidents in one lifetime?

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