Recipient of Van Gogh's severed ear revealed

One of the art world’s most enduring mysteries was put to rest this week, when the unknown woman who received Vincent Van Gogh’s severed ear was revealed to be a farmer’s daughter named Gabrielle Berlatier.

The revelation was contrary to the 130-year-old belief that the painter gave his bloody appendage to a prostitute named Rachel, during a fit of madness.

Experts said the recipient was actually Berlatier, who toiled as a maid in a house of ill repute in Arles to pay off her medical bills after being attacked by a rabid dog.

The Art Newspaper reported the identity of the woman, who was referred to in Bernadette Murphy’s new book, “Van Gogh’s War: The True Story.”

The newspaper said it tracked Berlatier’s name in the records of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, where the 18-year-old had been treated for rabies after being bitten by a dog owned by the farm’s shepherd on Jan. 8, 1888.

She was disfigured when her wound was cauterized with a red-hot iron, but her life was saved when she received a new anti-rabies vaccine in Paris.

“She had had a very nasty scar on her arm following the bite,” Murphy told The Daily Telegraph. “Van Gogh was somebody who was very touched by people in difficulty. I feel that he wanted to give her this gift of flesh.”

Berlatier, who later married and lived a long life, kept her encounter with Van Gogh a secret, The Art Newspaper reported.

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