In 1888, in Provence, France, an event occurred that was so bizarre it would enter modern legend. In the red light district on the edge of town a foreigner arrived at the door of a brothel, he was baring a package which he handed to one of the girls, the package contained a bloody piece of his own flesh. The man’s name was Vincent van Gogh and at the time of the incident in question he was an unknown and unsuccessful painter, but today he is one of the most celebrated artists of all time.
That year in France has gone on to define Van Gogh as it was the year he created his most treasured masterpieces but also the time that he took a knife to this own ear. It is one of the greatest mysteries in the art world, what exactly happened on that December night and why did he inflict such an injury upon himself?
In this film we see broadcaster Jeremy Paxman join art sleuth Bernadette Murphy on her incredible quest to uncover the truth which lies behind this mystery. Who was the girl he handed his ear to? Her identity has apparently been kept secret by her family for over a century. To find out we travel from Van Gogh’s home located in the south of France to the Museum named after him in Amsterdam, uncovering key evidence along the way.