Ripper Victim Hidden In Van Gogh Painting

"I should like to paint portraits which would appear after a century to the people living then as apparitions." (Vincent to his sister, Wilhelmina, June 4, 1890 [W22])

Photo of Mary Kelly as found in her room on Nov. 9, 1888 (National Archives of UK)

Van Gogh, Irises, May 1890 (Van Gogh Museum)

Acting as Jack the Ripper, Vincent's masterpiece was the murder of Mary Kelly. She was the only victim he killed indoors, and that gave him time to do much more. He couldn't paint her as she was found, so he decided to have some fun and paint her hidden in a vase of Irises. I first discovered Mary's face.

But then I found he hid her entire body in a similar position as he left her on her bed.

Vincent did more than cut up Mary's body, though, he left objects in her room, and he wanted to include them in the Irises, so he hid three dog faces.

And Vincent wanted to represent himself in the Irises, and he did so as a kind of dogman, with a kidney pierced through with his knife held up to his mouth. He also wanted to represent the police, and he painted an elongated face with a police helmet, but with a bonnet also, to represent how the police dressed as prostitutes to try and catch him. He added a depiction of his hand with a knife held to the policeman's face to show the control he had over them.

Vincent also wanted to depict the hat he wore for the murder, and he painted a hat hidden in the irises. He hid more in the irises that related to what he did in Mary's room. Finding objects in the Irises painting led to finding objects in the photo. Vincent killed Mary Kelly, and later he painted her hidden in some irises.