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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Van Gogh bandaged ear, painting.

On December 23, 1888, in Arles, a dispute escalated between Gauguin and his friend Van Gogh. Vincent is delirious. Paul leaves town. In a crazy gesture, Van Gogh cuts his left ear and takes it with him to a brothel.

This auto-mutilation says a lot about the painter's mental health.

Van Gogh will spend New Year's Eve at the hospital. This tragic and insane episode precedes the painter's suicide by 18 months. In this self-portrait taken in front of his mirror, Van Gogh represents himself wrapped up in a large green coat, a cap stuffed over his head, and his large bandage emerging over the ear. We are, however, indoors, in his studio, as evidenced by the French window, the presence of the easel and a Japanese print hanging on the wall (Van Gogh collected them). The painter seeks to show his wound, to give it perhaps a tangible reality, and to inscribe it in a temporality. This contextualization is rare in Van Gogh's self-portraits, around forty throughout his short career. These are works of introspection. The artist never smiles, prefers side views, even three-quarters facing. Here, his face is closed, his gloomy look, like the expression of a return to calm after the drama. On the aesthetic level, this painting is curiously marked by the use of bright and bright colors which fully register it in a research on the contrasts and the harmony of colors dear to post-impressionists. Was he thinking of Gauguin's palette, which had just left him?

Connaissance des Arts.

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