News ID: 315863
Published: 0322 GMT August 29, 2021

Van Gogh killed himself and was not murdered: Expert

Van Gogh killed himself and was not murdered: Expert

Vincent van Gogh did kill himself, a British expert concluded after years of debate over how the artist died.

In 2011, biographers claimed the Dutch painter was shot by teenager René Secrétan in 1890 – a theory that led to a decade of debate and was featured in the 2018 biopic At Eternity’s Gate, wrote

However, according to a new book dissecting the “myth” about his murder, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a shop-bought revolver while likely to have been leaning against the kind of wheatsheaf he painted.

British expert Martin Bailey has traced the history of the gun the artist used, unearthed newspaper reports and examined diary entries from Van Gogh’s acquaintances, all of which he believes point to suicide.

He told The Telegraph: “Van Gogh shot himself. It was suicide. The recent theory that he was shot by a local teenager is wrong. Everyone around Vincent at the time believed it was suicide.

“The discovery of the gun where he fell is further evidence that it was suicide. It would be unfortunate if another myth about Van Gogh is created.”

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith published ‘Van Gogh: The Life’ in 2011, which suggested the artist had been killed – a theory supported by gun expert Vincent Di Maio, who stated that a self-inflicted shot should have left powder marks on Van Gogh’s body.

However, Bailey found the gun’s safety pin had been unlocked when it was found in a field by a farmer Claude Aubert, who he identified down during his research, suggesting it was dropped by a wounded Van Gogh rather than hidden.

Van Gogh also had no injuries to his back, implying that he leant against a wheatsheaf in the field where the gun was found or was sitting on the ground rather than being involved in any kind of altercation.

Bailey has also detailed the contemporary accounts of those Van Gogh knew and painted during his time at Auvers-sur-Oise, including Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, who wrote about the “suicide de Van Gogh” in his diary after treating the artist.

His research is to be published by Frances Lincoln on Sep 21 in the new book ‘Van Gogh’s Finale: Auvers and the Artist’s Rise to Fame’.


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