Vincent Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear 134 Years Ago Today

At a glance

  • Vincent van Gogh, the brilliant but troubled Dutch impressionist painter, severed his left ear after a “blazing row” with fellow artist Paul Gaugin in Arles, France, on this day in history, Dec. 23, 1888.
  • The 35-year-old artist famously presented the bloody ear lobe to a female acquaintance outside a brothel. She passed out from shock.
  • The incident underscored a tragic descent into madness punctuated by stunning displays of productivity and genius in van Gogh’s final months on Earth.

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