New study reveals Van Gogh may have lost his ear to another man

5.6.2009

By Jessanne Collins

A pair of German art historians think there's more to the story of Vincent Van Gogh's ear than meets the eye. In a new book, aptly titled Van Gogh's Ear, Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans claim the artist Paul Gauguin lopped off the painter's ear with a fencing sword, either in a fit of rage or self-defense, and that it was the incident, not a more generalized madness, that drove Van Gogh to commit suicide two years later. (Not in dispute is the fact that Van Gogh gifted the severed flesh to a prostitute -- lucky girl).

Whether or not the wound was self-inflicted, it happened just as or after Gauguin was leaving
Van Gogh's house after a tumultous visit that may or may not have been sexually charged. In any case, this wasn't your average bro throwdown. According to Kaufmann and Wildegans, the two tortured artists upheld a pact of secrecy after the incident -- "Gauguin to avoid prosecution and Van Gogh in a vain attempt to keep a friend with whom he was hopelessly infatuated."

--JESSANNE COLLINS

Previously > Dolly Parton's Book of Many Colors

Tags: Popnography
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