Myths about artists often become more famous then the artists themselves. Most people know two things about Vincent Van Gogh he paints pretty sunflowers and starry nights, and that he went all crazy in love chopped off his ear and sent it to his lover. Well according to a recent article this infamous story may just be urban legend. The ear chopping is purported to just be a rumor spread by that "mean girl" Gaughin.
According to Hans Kaufmann, the ear-chopping came as a result of an argument between the two artists over whether Gauguin would join an artist's colony the hapless Vincent was trying to get off the ground. Says the scholar to Le Figaro,
To get rid of Van Gogh, who was begging him to stay, Gauguin waved his weapon in the direction of the victim while they were in front of the house of ill repute. The left ear fell. We cannot say if it was deliberate or an accident. In this situation, the protagonists vowed to keep silent. Then Gauguin disappeared, abandoning his friend. The next day, the police questioned him. That's when he made up the theory about self-mutilation.
The rumor spreading may have been exacerbated by a romance gone wrong between the two. Oh my. Perhaps, Vincent Van Gogh was the sane one, and Guaghin was all kinds of fatal attraction.