The history books and Dr. Who have it wrong, according to the latest research.
VINCENT Van Gogh did not commit suicide but was shot by a teenager with a Wild West obsession and a faulty gun, according to a new biography.
Short of claiming that the Dutch artist never cut off his ear and never painted sunflowers, the Pulitzer Prizewinning authors of “Van Gogh: The Life” could hardly have produced a more startling revelation from their decade of research.
… Interesting …
In their words, the legend of the tortured, unappreciated artist shooting himself in a wheat field at the end of a short miserable life was integral to the “meteoric ascent of Vincent’s celebrity in the decades immediately after his death”. He is supposed to have staggered more than a mile back across the fields to the inn where he was staying with a gunshot wound to his chest.
Before he died 30 hours later, he was asked if he had meant to commit suicide. He replied vaguely, “Yes, I believe so.”…
The new theory says that the fatal shot was not suicide, but rather, fired by a 16 year old named Rene Secretan, who knew Van Gogh and apparently was a bit of a troll, as well as a wanna-be cowboy and, seemingly, a gun nut.
Secretan liked to wear a cowboy costume brought from Paris, which he accessorised with a real gun, an erratic old .380 calibre pistol, for shooting squirrels, birds and fish.
No, this is not the Onion. This is authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, and they seem serious. They are Wurlitzer Prize Winners, after all.
Secretan went on to become a rich and respected banker, businessman and shooting champion. His elder brother, Gaston, whom Van Gogh liked and respected, was with him that day.
Shortly before he died … in 1957, Secretan … admitted, in detail, his abusive behaviour towards Van Gogh but was vague and … inconsistent on the artist’s death, saying that he learnt of it from a Paris newspaper, although no such account is known to exist.
[In another account,] Wilfred Arnold … recalled the art historian John Rewald telling him he had visited Auvers in the 1930s and heard rumours that Van Gogh had been shot accidentally by two boys and had taken the blame to protect them. Naifeh and Smith believe that is what happened, and that Van Gogh, who was “more psychologically troubled, sadder and lonelier than we had any idea”, then welcomed death as a way out.
Amazing. Or at least, that’s my impression.