Why did Vincent Van Gogh Cut off his Ear

Vincent van Gogh Artist Mug Side View Have you ever wondered why Vincent Van Gogh (March 30, 1853 - July 29, 1890)  the famous Dutch painter cut off his ear?
Self-Portrait, 1887, by Vincent van Gogh ( The Art Institute of Chicago)
History is full of people like Vincent Van Gogh who suffered from mental illness. Van Gogh is said to have suffered from severe epileptic attacks that would cause hallucinations and attacks were he lost consciousness. These attacks worsened while he lived in Arles, France. After a disagreement with his artist friend Paul Gaugin  (June 7, 1848–May 8, 1903), the artist had a psychotic attack and used his knife to cut off his left ear.

Van Gogh allegedly wrapped up his head and his removed ear and gave it to a prostitute in a nearby brothel. He was then admitted to a hospital in Arles. 

Van Gogh's physical and mental health would continue to deteriorate, and the following year he would tragically take his own life.

What could cause mental instability in an artist?

1. Stress

Van Gogh experienced a marked period of feverish painting frenzy when he produced a prolific amount of art, which tested his creative limits. His relationship with his artist friend Paul Gaugin, who spend the summer with him tended to be full of arguments. These two situations could have caused the artist too much mental stress.

2. Illness

Severe epileptic seizures caused the artist to suffer from losing consciousness and having hallucinations. 

3. Lead Poisoning

Even low levels of lead poisoning can cause kidney problems, anxiety, depression, and other “pervasive developmental issues.” Artists of that era often used pigments that would contain lead.

It is known that the artist suffered from his declining health. Sadly the artist shot himself in the chest on the 27th July 1890. He died two days later.

While searching for materials for this blog post, I found this mug on Amazon here and thought this would make a great gift for anyone who is obsessed with Van Gogh. The Van Gogh mug is finished with a bandage over his missing left ear and his vivid red beard and would be quiet the conversation piece, don't you think?!

Vincen Van Gogh Mug


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My name is Enzie (pronounced "NC") and I am multidisiplinary artist based out of California, USA.  

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