Scientists Make Genetic Copy of van Gogh's Ear

Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 05:01 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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Visitors to a museum in Berlin can see a genetic copy of Vincent van Gogh's ear.

The New York Post reports that German scientists were able to grow an ear using the Dutch artist's own DNA.

Van Gogh was famously said to have cut off his own left ear in 1888 in what the newspaper describes as "a psychotic episode."

The Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe was able to get living cells to perform the experiment by gathering them from the great-great-grandson of Vincent's brother Theo, named Lieuwe van Gogh, the report says.

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Lieuwe and Vincent van Gogh share about 1/16th of the same genes and the Y-chromosome that is passed down the male lineage, the Post says.

The report says artist Diemut Strebe told the Associated Press on Tuesday that she wanted to combine art and science.

In 2009, ABC News reported that van Gogh may have made up the story about cutting off his ear in a fit of passion.

It cited a book written by historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, who argued that fellow painter Paul Gauguin may have lopped it off with a sword during a heated argument and that both men kept a "pact of silence," "Gauguin to avoid prosecution and van Gogh in an effort to keep his friend, with whom he was hopelessly infatuated."

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