The Changeable Truth

Sounds like the title of a play. Well, truth usually remais the same, our perception and knowledge are the changeable subjects.

For a long time it was believed that van Gogh had cut half of his earlob off. A recent discover in Irving Stone’s archives (the writer of Lust For Life) shows that Vincent actually cut off the whole of his ear.

“The ‘ear incident’ with which Van Gogh’s illness manifested itself in December 1888, while he was living in the southern French town of Arles, is reconstructed in the exhibition through eyewitness testimony and letters. An exceptional loan is the recently discovered letter from Félix Rey, the doctor who treated Van Gogh in the hospital. It was found by Bernadette Murphy in the archive of the writer Irving Stone (The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley), while researching her book Van Gogh’s Ear: the True Story.

Rey’s letter includes drawings showing that Van Gogh cut off the whole of his left ear and not, as was long believed, just part of it. The discovery brings an end to a long-standing biographical question. The letter is exhibited alongside Van Gogh’s portrait of Dr Rey, which the artist gave the physician as a token of gratitude for his care. This beautiful painting from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow is being shown at the Van Gogh Museum for the first time.”

The well-known wrong fact became the right fact.




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