How Did Vincent Van Gogh Lose His Ear?

Updated: November 28, 2022
Vincent Van Gogh lost his ear in December 1888 in a fit of madness. He sliced off his own earlobe and gave it to a prostitute named Rachel as a gift.
Detailed answer:

Vincent Van Gogh’s ear is one of the most famous incidents in art history. The painter chopped off his own earlobe in December 1888 and gave it to a prostitute named Rachel as a gift.

Van Gogh’s ear story begins in December 1888 when he was living in Arles, France. He had been experiencing auditory hallucinations and thought that the voices were coming from a fellow painter named Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh went to Gauguin’s house but found no one home. When he returned to his own apartment, he was convinced that Gauguin had come back and was hiding inside his room.

In a fit of madness, Van Gogh picked up a razor blade and cut off most of his left ear lobe before walking down to a brothel where he gave it to Rachel as a gift.

The following morning, Van Gogh took a train to Paris where he asked Dr. Paul Gachet for help because “I have lost my mind.” Dr. Gachet diagnosed him with epilepsy and hospitalized him at St.-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Provence for nine months.

Van Gogh’s earlobe is one of the most famous body parts in history. It was cut off by Van Gogh himself in December 1888 after he suffered a severe mental breakdown. The incident was widely publicized and Van Gogh became a household name overnight.

The incident was immortalized in popular culture, including the film Vincent & Theo (1990) starring Tim Roth as Vincent and Paul Rhys as Theo van Gogh (Vincent’s brother).

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