Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh returned to his house at the beginning of January, and immediately wrote to Gauguin, sending a long and lucid letter apologizing for the 'incident' and assuring him of their continued friendship. Correspondence from Van Gogh to Theo and his friends indicates that he accepted his illness and wished to recover, though was perhaps unaware of the full extent of his mental condition, putting much of it down to poor physical health and fever. He was keen to start painting again and worked on this self portrait during the weeks following his return home.

As with oil the artist's self portraits, it is a frank statement of his self-perception at the time of painting, and here though the brushstrokes are controlled and considered the luminous green that envelops the background and the artist's bandaged face creates tension and an unworldly atmosphere. Behind the artist on the wall is a copy of a Japanese print, Utagawa Togokuni's Geishas in a Landscape. The bright foreign landscape is in total contrast to the artist huddled in his winter clothes, and possibly alludes to the fragmentation of his dreams for an artists' colony in the south.