Tag: Vincent Van Gogh

Amsterdam: History and Art (Photo Blog)

Amsterdam means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but to me it is the city of Rembrandt van Rijn. More on that, but first the modern city.

Van Gogh’s Ear (A Photoblog)

Vincent Van Gogh’s turbulent and tragic life makes for romantic legend, and much of it is true. But one common misconception is that he cut off his ear over the love of a woman. In fact, the official story long has been that he cut it off after a fight with his sometime friend, Paul Gauguin. The official story now has been called into question.

From Monday’s Guardian:

According to official versions, the disturbed Dutch painter cut off his ear with a razor after a row with Gauguin in 1888. Bleeding heavily, Van Gogh then walked to a brothel and presented the severed ear to an astonished prostitute called Rachel before going home to sleep in a blood-drenched bed.

But two German art historians, who have spent 10 years reviewing the police investigations, witness accounts and the artists’ letters, argue that Gauguin, a fencing ace, most likely sliced off the ear with his sword during a fight, and the two artists agreed to hush up the truth.

In Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence, published in Germany, Hamburg-based academics Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans argue that the official version of events, based largely on Gauguin’s accounts, contain inconsistencies and that both artists hinted that the truth was more complex.

Van Gogh and Gauguin’s troubled friendship was legendary. In 1888, Van Gogh persuaded him to come to Arles in the south of France to live with him in the Yellow House he had set up as a “studio of the south”. They spent the autumn painting together before things soured. Just before Christmas, they fell out. Van Gogh, seized by an attack of a metabolic disease became aggressive and was apparently crushed when Gauguin said he was leaving for good.

Van Gogh had wrapped the ear in paper, and when he handed it to Rachel, asked her to “keep this object carefully.” Van Gogh soon was taken into custody, and placed in a hospital, where his mental state was far worse than his physical. The hospital is now a cultural center known as Espace Van Gogh.