May 5, 2009

Book: Gauguin cut off Van Gogh’s ear

A new book suggests Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh lost his ear in a scuffle with fellow painter Paul Gauguin outside of a brothel.

It has long been believed the mentally ill Van Gogh cut off his own ear in 1888.

In Van Gogh's Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence, which is purported to be based on the original police investigation into the matter, contends that accomplished fencer Gauguin sliced the ear off Van Gogh with a sword, the BBC said.

German academics Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans reportedly spent a decade studying police records, witness accounts and letters sent by the two artists.

The authors ultimately concluded Gauguin was responsible for cutting off Van Gogh's ear, which the injured artist apparently handed to a prostitute named Rachel. The painters then told the police Van Gogh cut it off himself to protect Gauguin from prosecution, the BBC quoted the authors as saying.