But a new study claims Vincent Van Gogh may have made up the story to protect painter Paul Gauguin who actually lopped it off with a sword during an argument.
German art historians say the true version of events never surfaced as the two men both kept a "pact of silence" Gauguin to avoid prosecution and Van Gogh in a vain attempt to keep a friend with whom he was hopelessly infatuated.
In Van Gogh’s Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence, Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans claim it was the sword attack, not Van Gogh’s madness, that led him to commit suicide two years later.
The prevailing theory is that the Dutchman, who painted Sunflowers and the Potato Eaters, almost bled to death after slashing his own ear with a razor in a fit of lunacy on the night of December 23, 1888.
May 6, 2009