Van Gogh’s Ear Sliced by Gauguin?
(This is the second segment of Akira Kurosawa’s short film, Dream, which stars director Martin Scorsese as Vincent Van Gogh.)
Two German art historians, Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, in their book, Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence claim that it wasn’t tortured Van Gogh’s mutilating his ear because of the final break with Gauguin. Instead, it was Gauguin whipping out his sword as a warning to Van Gogh to back up. His quick action, unfortunately, cut off the other artist’s ear. Van Gogh, it is said, later presented the ear to a woman at the nearby brothel.
Kaufmann told the Guardian: “Near the brothel, about 300 metres from the Yellow House, there was a final encounter between them: Vincent might have attacked him, Gauguin wanted to defend himself and to get rid of this ‘madman’. He drew his weapon, made some movement in the direction of Vincent and by that cut off his left ear.” Kaufmann said it was not clear if it was an accident or an aimed hit.
Makes sense to me, especially since the two Impressionist painters later admitted that the truth of what happened was a lot more complicated than they could admit. But the possibility that Van Gogh cut off his own ear because he was also jealous of Gauguin’s success with the whores certainly added to his already anguished reputation.
Wow. This rates with the celebrated theory that the Mona Lisa, La Gioconda, is really a self-portrait of Leonardo daVinci in drag. It proves that if you wait long enough, the truth–all or part of it–will eventually trickle out.