Vincent dreamed of establishing an artists’ community at his house in Arles, in the South of France. He invited various artists to join him. Paul Gauguin was ultimately the only artist to take up Vincent’s offer.
Van Gogh’s Illness
Vincent was delighted that Paul Gauguin agreed to travel south. The two artists worked closely together for a while, but their discussions became increasingly heated.
They had different ideas about art. Tensions rose high. Vincent was worried that Gauguin would leave. His dream of an artists’ community would then fall to pieces.
After a furious row, Vincent got very confused. In a fit of madness, he cut off his ear. He ended up in hospital.
Félix Rey was the physician who treated Vincent. He drew a diagram showing how Vincent had cut off his ear.
‘I well knew that one could break one’s arms and legs before, and that then afterwards that could get better but I didn’t know that one could break one’s brain and that afterwards that got better too.’
To Theo, 28 January 1889
The ear incident was the result of Vincent’s first major mental breakdown. More of these attacks would follow. What illness was he suffering from?