Evidently, Julian Bell rejects Hans Kaufmann’s and Rita Wildegans’s revisionist version of how van Gogh got his ear cut off. He doesn’t mention it in his Van Gogh: A Power Seething (2015). Kaufmann and Wildegans argue that it was Gauguin who accidentally severed van Gogh’s ear while brandishing a rapier: see Adam Gopnik’s "Van Gogh's Ear" (The New Yorker, January 4, 2010). Gopnik attaches considerable significance to the “ear” incident. He calls it “the Nativity fable and the Passion story of modern art.” He says,
How fine that “the seething of his mind as a surge of curling and hooking movements”! Bell’s Van Gogh brims with such descriptions. It takes me inside the heart of van Gogh’s incomparable art.