Why Did Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear ?  

There has always been a lot of speculation over why Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear. While there are different theories floating around for the reason, the most accepted reason believes that he cut off ear during a seizure of epilepsy.

Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh were friends. When Van Gogh moved to Arles from Paris, he wanted to found an art colony there. He convinced Gauguin to move to Arles with him to live in the Yellow House that he had set up as a studio. This was in 1888. For some time, their relationship was okay but by autumn of that year, things started turning bad between them.

Just before Christmas, Van Gogh and Gauguin broke up their friendship. By that time, Van Gogh's mental state was very bad and he tended to become aggressive. He was deeply hurt when Gauguin informed him that he intended to leave Arles and the Yellow House for good.

The evening before Van Gogh cut off his ear, he and Gauguin were sitting a café drinking absinthe. Without any provocation, Van Gogh threw his absinthe at Gauguin. However, he did not remember the incident the next day. Gauguin informed him that he was going to move out, and this upset Van Gogh quite a bit. Nonetheless, Gauguin was firm on his decision, and decided to go out for a walk.

After Gauguin left, Van Gogh started shaving. It was then he heard a voice telling him to kill Gauguin. This made Van Gogh leave the house and look for Gauguin with the razor blade in his hand. Gauguin heard footsteps behind him, and when he turned he saw Van Gogh with a crazy look holding the razor in his hand. It looked as though he was in a trance. However, he immediately rushed back home where he used the razor to cut off the lower half of his left ear.

Van Gogh used towels to stem the bleeding. Gauguin decided to spend the night in a hotel as he did not feel safe. After waiting for Gauguin, around midnight, Vincent took his severed ear, wrapped it in paper and then when to the brothel that Gauguin used to go to. He left the ear on the steps with a note for a prostitute named Rachel who had posed for him once.

A neighbor saw Van Gogh's condition and escorted him home. The following  day, the police came after being alerted by the neighbor and took Van Gogh to the hospital where he was committed under the care of Dr Rey.

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Why Did Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear




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