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Van Gogh's name is most often associated with people from distant art, with the fact of his biography that he once cut off his ear. For some, this causes laughter, for some disgust, for some misunderstanding, but usually it doesn’t go beyond these feelings. In fact, the story is rather worthy of sympathy than censure.
Van Gogh was not famous during his lifetime. He was not even famous - for all the time he managed to sell only one picture. He was begging, he was persecuted, believing he was crazy - after all, he continued to paint, instead of finding himself a “normal” and “decent for a man” work - he happened to starve, buy paint instead of food.
A life full of hardships, over time, led him to real madness. At that time, he had a friend, also an artist, visiting Gauguin, and they happened to quarrel. Van Gogh fell into a riot, grabbed a razor, and when a frightened friend left him, he cut off his earlobe. What pushed him to this - no one will know, most likely the madness that had to be directed at least somewhere.
“Self-portrait with a cut off ear” was written some time later (probably not too much) after these unpleasant events. On it, Van Gogh still with a bandage, with a pipe in his teeth, on a red-orange background, creating an unpleasant, crushing impression. He is wearing a coat, a warm winter fur hat, a pipe in his teeth emanating smoke - the one drawn in the form of spirals and rings.
The artist’s eyes are slightly mowed, their eyes are defocused and he looks as a whole like a person who is slightly out of himself. Madness approaches him, and fighting him, he paints, tries to survive, but, as we all know, he will not succeed and he will commit suicide.
“A self-portrait with a cut off ear” is like a formidable harbinger of this event, showing in advance how difficult it is to fight a part of oneself and how tragic it is to lose this battle.
Portrait of Naryshkina