Van Gogh gave an ear to his lover.

It’s a strange tale, but true according to historical accounts…

It happened on December 23, 1888, two days before the Christmas holiday. Vincent van Gogh was an exceptionally gifted artist but also odd and often described as paranoid. On December 23, he was recorded as suffering from some form of dementia that triggered a dangerous quarrel between him and another artist known as Paul Gauguin. What is interesting about the altercation is what followed after. 

Usually, when a disagreement occurs, each opposer’s intent is to attack the other verbally or physically. However, after threatening Mr. Gauguin with a knife, he turned that knife on himself and cut his ear off. Even stranger, Mr. Van Gogh apparently wrapped his bloody ear up and delivered it to an unnamed prostitute. He was reportedly hospitalized after the incident occurred and voluntarily checked himself into a mental institution after hospitalization.

What triggered the unusual incident is unknown. Mr. Gauguin was recorded as his friend, and both artists had been roommates for nearly two months before tensions arose. They were also recorded as working together on art projects. There’s no account of what Mr. Gauguin did or how he reacted when threatened with a knife. However, it appears as if Mr. van Gogh struggled with unstable moods, paranoia, and some form of unspecified psychosis that may have provoked discord between the two men.