The Tale Of The Two Vincent’s


Vincent Van Gogh and Vincent Van Quack
If you’ve been following our series on the Famous Ducks of History you may already be thinking that humans are always the bad guys and ducks the poor, unfortunates who get insufficient respect for their accomplishments.  Oh, if only life were so simple!


The Era Of The Infamous


One duck included on most lists of the “infamous” is none other than the notorious artist and virtuoso impressionist Vincent Van Quack.  Now, Mr. Van Quack came from a generation of many bad apples so perhaps there is some justification to blame society for his woes.   Yet what a society it was!  Among the most notable were:


– Senator Uppiyer Duckpatoody

– Judge Stickitinyur Hornblower

– Mr. Watchoutfromabove Itsahighfalutingdumpsterdiver

– Captain Yurwashingyurownshorts Thunderduck, and of course,

– Ms. Pleasedonutsqueeze De Pleasinglyplumpplumage.


Though all of the ducks in our list probably deserve at least ten minutes of fame, today’s post will focus in on one of the founding fathers of modern art, Vincent Van Gogh, and his ill-fated would-be rival the legendary Vincent Van Quack.


A Sad Tale


I give you fair warning:  It’s sad to hear any tale that ends poorly, but such was the fate of Van Quack


Self portrait of Vincent Van Quack.

Click on image to expand.


Life of Poverty


Through no choice of his own, Van Quack lived a very Spartan lifestyle.  Often homeless and half-starved for want of a proper diet, he grew up hoping to minister to others less flatulent…check that…less fortunate.  He was therefore sadly disappointed to learn that he received a big fat duck egg on his post-graduate college entrance exams.  The test proctor said he lacked the proper aptitude and might as well join a vaudeville act.


Trouble Brewing


Now, I do not mean to imply Van Quack lacked smarts.  He had plenty of  smarts, but he also had quite a “tude” as it turned out—meaning the wrong kind, which got in the way of learning, holding down a job, hanging on to a relationship, or just about anything to do with getting along in life.  In fact, he was an ornery little duck if the truth be told, who often found no better way to entertain himself than go to the park and dive bomb all the old ladies feeding pigeons.


Washed Out


In spite of his problems, Van Quack convinced the Dean at St. Duckarini’s Seminary to let him attend school for a trial semester.  However, after only a few months he was reprimanded for faking a number of quacking fits during class, and then was kicked out a day later over the suspicion he burned down the all-mallard dorm overnight (though this was never proven).  At least, his education lasted long enough to complete his “bonehead” painter’s class (i.e. Picking Up A Brush Using Only Two Feathers 101), for it was in this class he met an important man—the up and coming artist Vincent Van Gogh.


A Magical Connection


Who can say exactly how it happened (Wait, isn’t that exactly what I’m doing?), but Van Quack was enthralled with Van Gogh’s personal story from the get-go.  There were remarkable similarities in their childhood backgrounds.  Both came from difficult circumstances, both suffered from a number of recurring ailments, and most important, both were gifted nose whistlers who applied their unique skill to the earliest forms of gangsta rap (i.e. what most would consider classical music today).


A Little Too Close


And so it came to pass that Van Quack began to follow Van Gogh everywhere he went.  Nowadays we tend to call this kind of behavior stalking, for almost every waking hour, plus many more when Van Gogh was fast asleep, Van Quack would never be more than a few feet away.  Sometimes it was mere inches.  There were even a number of occasions Van Quack would park his butt on Van Gogh’s head while the latter was snoring.  Strangely, Van Gogh never figured out why he would often wake up with a sweaty face and the odd feather in his mouth.


Since I’m already going down this path and I want to report all the facts as they come gushing from my brain, I wish to point out that most days Van Gogh was barely aware of Van Quack.  If anything, he had only the occasional passing thought he’d somehow acquired a curiously daft, over-attentive, ruffly-feathered companion.


It’s All A Ruse


No, no, no, say it isn’t so!  Look out, Van Gogh!  Don’t be fooled by Van Quack’s darling little ducky outfit that matches your own to a tee, or by that tiny easel next to yours with the set of miniature paint brushes.  Can’t you see that by copying all your work Van Quack’s only playing up to your ego?  It’s a set up!


Short But Sweet


The cozy relationship Van Quack engineered lasted some sixteen months.  During that time, Van Quack learned every trick and technique invented or employed by Van Gogh.  His flagrant copyright violations are shameless!  One need only examine the 2000 or so masterpieces of either painter to see that Van Quack’s so-called originals were stroke for stroke the same as Van Gogh’s (other than the size issue due to using smaller canvases)—that is, all were the same except for Van Quack’s self-portrait shown above.  However, even this work, is a near copy of Van Gogh’s original “Self-Portrait” (F 627) painted in September 1889  roughly 10 months prior to his death.  Believe me when I say, duck art historians still quack on and on over Van Quack’s dastardly, appalling, lazy, cheap, dishonorable, loathsome, vile, contemptible, and yet remarkably accurate duplication of Van Gogh’s works.  In fact, some now refer to Van Quack affectionately and have nicknamed him Xerox.


Somebody’s Delusional


As all things good, bad, or ugly must ultimately come to a conclusion, the relationship between the two Vincent’s ended the following July (1890).  It began as a episode of mutual delirium brought on either by jointly contracting the West-Nile-Swine-Avian-Rhino virus (that’s the H1N1-Pizza-Pie bug), or by smoking one too many joints.  In any case, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, a buck-naked Van Gogh suddenly woke up from a dream convinced it was the opening day of dove hunting season.  Jumping from his bed, he pulled a pair of underwear over his ears believing he was donning his hunter’s cap, then rushed to kitchen, ate two bananas, downed four shots of bourbon, retrieved his revolver from under the bathroom floorboards—the one stashed between his chamber pot and the small table holding his well-worn copy of “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader”—before high-stepping  it outside to his favorite tune, Schubert’s March Militaire.


(Note: Van Gogh was in truly fine form that morning.  One must only watch a few seconds of the video below and imagine the same tune as a schnoz whistling event extraordinaire.  If there had been an audience that morning, I’m sure they would have held their breath in awe.  It was one of those heart-pounding moments where a feeling of intense pride wells up in your chest and you just want to burst out sobbing great tears of joy.  Beyond compare, I’m sure, and yet I digress)





Out Of It


Too far gone to understand what all the ruckus was about, Van Quack finally roused himself from a straw pallet in the corner of Van Gogh’s living room and waddled out after him in a daze.  Note: We have now reached the point where duck history once again diverges from human history, for human historians would have us believe Van Gogh was so depressed over his life and art that he shot himself.  As I thrust my tongue against my cheek, I want you to believe me when I tell you that’s not what really happened!  And because Van Quack was there (though in an admittedly iffy and delusional state of my subconsciousness) we have all we need to prove it beyond a shadow of doubt.  No, the real story goes something like this


Good Day For Hunting


As Van Gogh exited his house, a close friend and neighbor Richard (aka Dick) Chinny saw Van Gogh rush outside with a revolver and what appeared to be his next meal (i.e. Van Quack). Wanting to get in on a potential feast, Chinney asked if he could tag along.  Not really registering any of it, Van Gogh trudged on and came to rest at a spot in the middle of a wheat field with both Van Quack and Chinny in tow.  From out of the blue, a quail popped out from behind a bush (I believe the scientific name for the plant was Thousandpointsoflightium and it was the elder of the two bushes in the field in what turned out to be a fairly conservative landscape as these things go for artists).




Moving on…with lightning-quick reflexes, Chinny ripped the revolver out of Van Gogh’s hands and started blasting.  Blam!  Blam!  Blam!  Blam!  Poor quail didn’t have a chance in…heck—he was completely over his head and hardly ready to run like the dickens in the campaign to save his life.  Taking one in the gizzard, he hopped, skipped, and then dropped face-first into the dirt at Chinny’s feet.  It was then that Chinny realized he had mistakenly shot Van Gogh as well.  Horrified, he pulled out his cell…check that…he screamed for help like a girl of nine—you know the high screechy thing they do.  Soon, other friends and neighbors began streaming out into the field to see what all the fuss was about.  Meanwhile, Van Gogh came around long enough for Chinny to convince him of a cover story: Van Gogh would take the blame and claim he had accidentally shot himself in exchange for a prime vacation property Chinny owned in Montenegro.


Sad Indeed


Alas, two short days later, with a weeping Dick Chinny and Vincent Van Quack at his side, Van Gogh passed on to greener waters.  And that, as they say, is nearly the rest of the story, for within perhaps two seconds (as dear old Dick was no dummy), he realized the only witness to the whole affair was the duck about to become his next dinner.  Diving for the two pistols he kept holstered at his waist, he drew a bead and fired.  Blam!  Blam!


As the feathers flew and fluttered to the ground, Van Quack’s demise turned into one very sad tail, indeed.  Yes, yes…you may groan now.


Art by Shaun Novion
Interpretative History by Bob Anderson


For other startling duck history, you may also want to visit our
Famous Ducks Of History page.



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