was van Gogh colourblind?…

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01/06/2013 by Sarah Ritchie

Café Terrace at Night

Café Terrace at Night, Vincent van Gogh (1888)

The probable answer seems to be “no”, though it is interesting to read the theories. Here is one from Wikipedia which might interest you:

Medical theories have even been proposed to explain Van Gogh’s use of the colour yellow. One theory holds that Van Gogh’s colour vision might have been affected by his love of absinthe, a liquor that contains a neurotoxin called thujone. High doses of thujone can cause xanthopsia: seeing objects in yellow. However, a 1991 study indicated that an absinthe drinker would become unconscious from the alcohol content long before consuming enough thujone to develop yellow vision. Another theory suggests that Dr. Gachet might have prescribed digitalis to Van Gogh as a treatment for epilepsy. There is no direct evidence that he ever took digitalis, but he did paint Gachet with some cut flower stalks of Common Foxglove, the plant from which the drug is derived. Those who take large doses of digitalis often report yellow-tinted vision or yellow spots surrounded by coronas (like those in the The Starry Night) and changes in overall colour perception.

Starry Night

Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh (1889)

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