On a day like today in history, on December 23, 1888, the Dutch impressionist Vincent van Gogh cuts off his ear

Vincent van Gogh, the brilliant but troubled Dutch impressionist painter, cut off his left ear after a “hot fight” with his colleague Paul Gaugin. in Arles, Franceon this day in history, December 23, 1888.

The 35-year-old artist presented the bloody earlobe to an acquaintance outside a brothel. She fainted from shock.

The incident underscored a tragic descent into madness punctuated by impressive displays of productivity and genius in van Gogh’s final months on Earth.

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“Although he sold only one painting during his lifetime, Van Gogh is now one of the most popular artists of all time”, writes the Art Story Foundation in its biography of the painter, calling him an “iconic and tortured artist”.

His “radically idiosyncratic and emotionally evocative style has continued to affect artists and movements throughout the 20th century and up to the present day, ensuring Van Gogh’s importance well into the future.”

On a day like today in history, on December 23, 1888, the Dutch impressionist Vincent van Gogh cuts off his ear GettyImages 1166202997

“Self-portrait with bandaged ear and pipe, February 1889” (1947). Van Gogh (1853-1890) cut off his ear with a razor during one of his periods of mental illness. Painting in a private collection. From “Vincent Van Gogh”, by Ludwig Goldscheider and Wilhelm Uhde (Phaidon Press Ltd, Oxford and London, 1947). Artist Vincent van Gogh.
(Photo by The Print Collector via Getty Images)

The notorious act of self-mutilation still haunts the art world and fascinates people today.

The story has included confusing legends and inaccuracies, according to some art scholars.

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“For a long time, the accepted story was that Van Gogh gave the bloody appendage to a woman named Rachel, a prostitute from the brothel. [that] van Gogh frequented while living in Arles, in the south of France,” notes the Berkeley Library in the University of Californiain a 2019 interview with Irish art historian Bernadette Murphy.

“He gave the woman his ear outside the brothel and, according to a local newspaper report, told her to ‘guard this item carefully.’ She passed out on the spot.”

“Although he sold only one painting in his lifetime, Van Gogh is now one of the most popular artists of all time.”

The woman was “traumatized” to receive her blood-soaked earlobe, Murphy said, adding that the woman was a cleaner, not a prostitute, and her name was Gaby, not Rachel.

Saint Remy, June 1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4 inches (73.7 x 92.1 cm).  Located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York.

Saint Remy, June 1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/4 inches (73.7 x 92.1 cm). Located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York.
(Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Gaby also worked at a cafe that Van Gogh visited regularly, suggesting a closer connection between the couple than previously believed,” according to the Berkeley Library account.

Van Gogh checked into an asylum the following May.

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The incident preceded one of the most brilliant periods of artistic expression in van Gogh’s brief and ignominious career as an artist.

He painted the dour “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear” in early 1889 while recovering from his injuries.

“The Starry Night” was painted in June 1889 while van Gogh was in an asylum in St. Remy, France.

“The Starry Night”, perhaps Van Gogh’s most famous and critically acclaimed work, was painted in June 1889 while Van Gogh was in an asylum in St. Remy, France.

He created “Trigal con cypresses”, another of his most famous pieces, in July.

The pistol believed to be the one Van Gogh used to commit suicide is on public display at the Drouot auction house in Paris.

The pistol believed to be the one Van Gogh used to commit suicide is on public display at the Drouot auction house in Paris.
(FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Van Gogh, tired of the hectic pace after living for two years in Paris, fled to the Mediterranean coast of France, arriving by train in the town of Arles, on the Rhône River, on February 20, 1888.

“I longed for the peace of the countryside, the sun and the light and color of ‘Japanese’ landscapes, which I expected to find in Provence, in the south of France,” writes the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

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“With this ‘artists’ colony’ in mind, Vincent rented four rooms in the ‘Yellow House’ on Place Lamartine. Paul Gauguin was the first artist, and would turn out to be the last, to move in with him.”

Their artistic and personal differences became increasingly hostile, the museum reports.

Van Gogh died of a gunshot wound to the chest, supposedly self-inflicted, on July 29, 1890.

“Vincent began to show signs of agitation and when Gauguin threatened to leave, the pressure became too much. Van Gogh became so distraught that he threatened his friend with a razor. Later that night, he cut off his ear in the Yellow House, killing him. wrapped it in newspaper and gave it to a prostitute in the nearby red-light district.

Van Gogh died of a gunshot wound to the chest, supposedly self-inflicted, on July 29, 1890. Some historians suggest that he was murdered.

The gun believed to have been used to kill him sold for $182,000 at auction in Paris in 2019.

Vincent van Gogh was only 37 years old when he died.

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“Star, starry night/Paint your palette blue and grey/Look at a summer day/With eyes that know the darkness of my soul.” American composer Don McLean he wrote on “Vincent,” his achingly beautiful 1971 song and ode to the troubled mind of the artist.

“They did not listen, they did not know how / Maybe now they will listen.”