After cutting off part of his left ear in December, 1888, Vincent van Gogh was taken to the hospital of Arles and placed in the care of Dr. Felix Rey. Dr. Rey was a 23 year old intern at the time and would eventually go on to become an expert on tuberculosis. He would be awarded the silver medal of the Ministry of the Interior for his work during a cholera epidemic.
Rey proved to be one of Vincent's most sympathetic doctors. He genuinely cared about the health and well-being of his mentally anguished patient. Eventually Vincent would give Dr. Rey the portrait shown above at right as a gift. Rey, while appreciative, never really liked the painting and used it for years to repair a chicken coop.