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23 December

Van Gogh Cuts Off His Ear

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

It’s December 23, 1888 and you are a suffering painter.  Your a little depressed, what do you do?  Cut off your ear?  Thats what our painter friend Van Gogh did.  The story used to go that he cut it off in a fury after a fight with his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin.  But an ABC story in 2009 says it didn’t go down that way.  Instead a theory presented by Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans in their book Van Goghs Ohr, says that it was Gauguin, a skilled fencer who cut of Van Gogh’s ear during the argument and that Gogh would not rat on his friend so most of us know the story like this:

the disturbed Dutch painter severed his left ear lobe with a razor blade in a fit of lunacy after he had a row with Gauguin one evening shortly before Christmas 1888.  Bleeding heavily, van Gogh then wrapped it in cloth, walked to a nearby bordello and presented the severed ear to a prostitute, who fainted when he handed it to her.  He then went home to sleep in a blood-drenched bed, where he almost bled to death, before police, alerted by the prostitute, found him the next morning.  He was unconscious and immediately taken to the local hospital, where he asked to see his friend Gauguin when he woke up, but Gauguin refused to see him.  –ABC article

Either way today is the day that happened.  Ouch!  Van Gogh died in 1890 just two years after losing his ear.  He died of a self-inflicted shotgun shot to the head.  Makes the whole story of cutting off his own ear a little more believable huh?  Gauguin died in 1903.

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