Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Van Gogh's ear, Bernadette Murphy

The Dutch cover
You would think that with so many books and articles published about Vincent van Gogh, there is nothing new to tell. Well, there you would be wrong.

Meet Bernadette Murphy, who moved from Ireland to Arles, the town in the Provence where Vincent lived in the last eightteen months of his life.

When she had some time, she decided if she could work out what happened with Vincent's ear, but during her investigation, she found out much more.

Bernadette Murhphy knew how to combine the information from all kinds of sources, inventories, testaments, courtcases, letters etc etc. She also created a database for all the inhabitants of Arles around 1890, so she could easily match her data.

She found out a few smaller things, like if absinth playes a part in Vincent's madness (answer: probably not), or the identity of the girl that Vincent gave his ear to and also worked out a very logical reasoning for his behaviour.

But she also found valueable information about what really happened with Vincent's ear (we finally know for sure now), and what was really the case when the inhabitants of Arles filed a request to remove Vincent from their neighbourhood. This request really hurt Vincent and it does not reflect well on the people of Arles, but by carefully looking at the signatures, Bernadette Murphy found out what really happened.

Van Gogh's ear is a wonderful book. It is not only full of information about Vincent, but also about Arles in those days with all kinds of wonderful details about all aspects of life. And it is also a book about how determination and a little bit of luck can make for a great investigation!

Title: Van Gogh's ear. The true story.
Published in 2016

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