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“Self-Portrait ‘Mutilated Ear'” by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Willem van Gogh 103

“Self-portrait ‘Mutilated Ear'” by Vincent van Gogh

“Self-portrait ‘Mutilated Ear'” by Vincent van Gogh shows Van Gogh after a confrontation with Gauguin in which with a razor, Van Gogh in a rage severed part of his own left ear.  Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions, and he often neglected his physical health and drank heavily.

The exact sequence of events which led to Van Gogh’s mutilation of his ear is not known. This self-portrait shows his mutilated ear and following this incident, his friendship with Gauguin ended and he spent time in a psychiatric hospital. After he discharged himself and moved nearer to Paris, and came under the care of the homoeopathic doctor. His depression continued, and in 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died from his injuries two days later.

This painting was acquired by the museum in 1910 and was initially rejected by scholars and technical researchers, however, provenance research by the museums counter these adverse claims, and the debate continues.

Vincent van Gogh is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime and was considered a madman and a failure. He created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. They were characterised by bold colours and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art.

Self-Portrait ‘Mutilated Ear’

  • Title:                Self-Portrait ‘Mutilated Ear’
  • Alternative:     Self-portrait ‘à l’oreille mutilé’
  • Artist:              Vincent Willem van Gogh
  • Created:          1889
  • Material:         oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:   55.5 × 45 cm (1.8 × 1.4 ft)
  • Museum:        National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design – Norway

Vincent van Gogh

  • Name:                 Vincent Willem van Gogh
  • Born:                   1853 – Zundert, Netherlands
  • Died:                   1890 (aged 37) – Auvers-sur-Oise, France
  • Resting place:      Cimetière d’Auvers-sur-Oise, Auvers-sur-Oise, France
  • Nationality:         Dutch
  • Movement:         Post-Impressionism
  • Notable works:


“Straight ahead is shortest, but not always easiest.”
-Norwegian Proverb


Photo Credit: Vincent van Gogh [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons