If you managed to visit the recent Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, you may well have seen “Still Life with a Plate of Onion”; the first painting by Van Gogh after the infamous mutilation of his ear.
The picture depicts a coffee pot, an empty bottle of absinthe, and a handbook on homeopathy!
This serves to remind us of the difficulties and illness that had become such a prominent part of the artist’s life. As was common in the late 19th century, Vincent van Gogh, along with many other impressionist painters such as Cezanne, Pisarro, Manet and Renoir, sought help and advice from a homeopathic practitioner.
The impressionists physician of choice was Paul Ferdinand Gachet, who assisted in Renoir’s recovery from pneumonia and helped alleviate Van Gogh’s anxiety, following his discharge from a mental asylum in St Remy, France.
It was during his time under the care of this homeopath, that Van Gogh painted 70 paintings in 70 days! As a consequence, art historians cite this period of Van Gogh’s life, to be his most productive.
This article was originally published in 'Homeopathy Healthy Medicine' in June 2010. This is a free newsletter published by ARH, and available at http://www.a-r-h.org/publications.htm.