'Van Gogh didn't kill himself'

2011-10-18 09:14

London - A leading Dutch expert on Vincent Van Gogh has poured cold water on the theory put forward in a new biography that the Dutch painter did not kill himself but was accidentally shot.

Van Gogh: The Life, by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, was published on Monday, and media coverage has centred on its claim that Van Gogh may have been accidentally shot by two boys whom he then tried to protect.

The painter, who suffered from depression, cut off part of an ear, committed himself to an asylum and is widely believed to have ended his own life at age 37. He died in 1890, two days after suffering a gunshot wound to his chest.

Leo Jansen, curator at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, said there were still unresolved issues surrounding Van Gogh's apparent suicide, including why the artist decided to kill himself and what happened to the gun which was never found.

New perspectives

"Naifeh and Smith re-evaluate the known facts and present the hypothesis that two boys were involved in a mysterious incident that led to the fatal shot," he said in a statement issued by the museum.

Jansen called the theory "intriguing" but inconclusive.

"The Van Gogh Museum (...) believes that, all things considered, it would be premature to rule out suicide as the cause of death."

He added that the hard-back, nearly 1 000 pages long, "represents a major contribution to our understanding of Vincent van Gogh's life and work, with intriguing new perspectives".