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The Cover
May 19, 2010

Courtyard of the Hospital at Arles

JAMA. 2010;303(19):1892. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.620

On December 23, 1888, at 11:30 PM, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) crossed the courtyard from his house to the La Maison de Tolérance brothel, asked for Rachel, and gave her a part of his left ear wrapped in paper, instructing her to “Guard this article carefully.” Vincent had no recollection of what he had done. Still the local newspaper in Arles, France, Le Forum Républicain, referred to his actions as those of “a poor lunatic,” a designation that has affected his reputation since that time. The police went immediately to the yellow house that he shared with Paul Gauguin and found Vincent sleeping deeply. Gauguin, threatened by Vincent, had spent the night at a hotel. When he arrived home about 7 AM and learned what had happened he immediately notified Theo, Vincent's loyal brother and art dealer, in Paris. On receipt of Gauguin's telegram Theo took the next train from Paris to Arles.