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Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear

The selected painting is the work of Vincent Van Gogh, called Self-portrait with bandaged ear, painted in 2-D and belonging to the social category as it reflects the artist’s inner state. Van Gogh always strove to paint himself and everything surrounding him without embellishment, conveying life as he saw and perceived it, not striving for exact portrait likeness, making the picture conditional. The theme of the painting is mental illness, as it is one of the self-portraits that Van Gogh created after the first attack, and his face is utterly different from other self-portraits painted earlier. Vincent van Gogh’s Self-portrait with the bandaged ear is currently at the exhibition at The Courtauld Institute Gallery in London, United Kingdom.

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The artist depicted himself against the background of a light green wall; behind him is an easel and a Japanese engraving. The artist appreciated Japanese art for its simplicity, saturation, and lightness. The bright colors of the engraving contrast with the cold blues and greens that make up the coloristic basis of the painting, and the color palette of the work is soft and transparent. The lines of the image are short and sharp, and the brushstroke sculpts the subject’s texture, as the technique that Van Gogh uses is called impasto, where the strokes are voluminous and dense. The picture size is 60 by 49 cm; the work is painted in oil on canvas, and when depicting his face, the artist also uses light pure paints.

According to Mao, a self-portrait is a shadow of oneself, which reflects the artist’s own life and self-esteem captured by the artist; that is why Van Gogh’s portrait represents a state of fanaticism and obsession (Mao, 2021). Based on what I have learned, the shadow of the painter in art and self-portraying “is not necessarily the painter’s true appearance, but to a large extent expresses the painter’s understanding and evaluation of himself” (Mao, 2021, p.148).

Such a part of the art as self-portrait led me to think that what artists reflect in their portraits is a story about their life with the help of canvas and paints. As stated by Mao, if the self-esteem of some artists is positive, then the image reflected in the picture should be confident or even proud, and if, on the contrary, then the idea is evil (Mao, 2021). Thus, many people do not realize the importance of the artist’s transfer of his state of mind through a self-portrait, and this prevents them from penetrating the essence of the artist’s art and thoughts.

The problem in art raises many questions about how to draw attention to the problem of underestimating self-portraits. To solve this problem, a particular marketing campaign aimed at educating people about drawing self-portraits can be introduced, showing the importance and uniqueness of this direction. Thus, it is possible to create interactive advertising on different platforms in social networks, which will talk about art and self-portraits on behalf of the artists themselves. The advertising campaign will focus on the artists’ presentation, their self-portraits, and a short story of their biography reflected in the art. Such an interactive inclusion in everyday life will arouse the interest of many people, which will make them think about art and the role of artists in society.

Van Gogh’s self-portrait is a vivid reflection of the author and his condition in art. However, many people do not pay enough attention to the emotional experiences of the artists shown in the portraits. Thus, the theme of self-portraits in art is still incomprehensible and little known to many people. This is also associated with a global misunderstanding of the importance of the life and autobiography of artists in art, which requires solutions.


Mao, L. (2021). The hidden self in self-portrait. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 572, 147-151.

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