Did Van Gogh really cut off his ear?

Vincent Van Gogh He is one of those painters who did not experience his success in life, but today his paintings are in the most important art museums in the world and in the hands of private collectors reach stratospheric prices. Perhaps his way of life, supported almost all his life by his brother Theo van Goghhelped make him a mythical artist, as well as some iconic moments that were recorded in his self-portraits such as the loss of his ear.

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Is it true that Van Gogh cut off his ear?

An important myths of that impressionist painter It is that in a moment of delirium he decided to cut off his ear, but the truth is that there are several theories about this event and little certainty about what really happened on December 23, 1888, just one day before Christmas Eve.

Vincent Van Gogh, self-portrait1887. / Van Gogh Museum

The first begins with a visit to Paul Gauguin, this painter, joined Vincent in Arles around 1888, promoted in part by Théo, who also represented Gauguin. There the two painters would show off their style and talent by depicting the same scenes in different ways, and although this was an important time for the artistic creation of both, Gauguin was not so happy with Vincent’s company.

The imminent departure of Gauguin will be a key moment for the van gogh mental health which deteriorated considerably. The official theory is that during a fight between the artists, Van Gogh took a razor as a threat, to finally finish to cut her own ear hours later. According to the story, Vincent wrapped it up and gave it to a prostitute.

van gogh lily
lilies1889 / Wikimedia Commons

However, the second theory on the event was promoted by two German art historians, who, on the basis of testimonies, the police report and the correspondence of the artists, affirm that it was in fact Gauguin who cut off Van Gogh’s ear with his sword during the fight.

However, it is unclear to historians whether this was a simple combat accident or a premeditated act. Despite this, so far the most accepted version that even the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam recognizes is that Van Gogh mutilated himself in a moment of delirium.

This first theory even supports the belief of a van gogh state of mind this would lead him a year later, in 1890, to commit suicide…although his death is also riddled with myths and versions, as there are those who suggest he was killed by accident.

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