Theophile Muschler was a friend of Docteur Felix Rey who ran a lunatic asylum in an old convent near Saint Remy a few miles from Arles. One day the Docteur asked him to treat a Dutchman who had toothache. The man spent his whole time in the home painting wild canvasses which the nursing staff considered to be the work of a demented mind. Theophile examined the patient and declared that there was little he could do for him as the mad artist was not suffering from toothache but from a painful nerve due to his having chopped off his own ear. It was Vincent Van Gogh.
Years later, Theophile moved to the small village of Cagnes where he set up a new practice in his house. My mother, then aged six, often heard the agonized howls of his patients when staying there. One of them was their neighbour Auguste Renoir who sketched her on occasions when she playing under the olive trees outside his Collettes studio.
Renoir gave some of these sketches to Maman who didn’t like them because they made her daughter look plump and, not appreciating their possible future value, tore them up.
Self portrait with bandaged Ear. Vincent Van Gogh. January 1889 Oil on canvas. 60 x 49 cm