New book claims Vincent Van Gogh did not commit suicide
A new theory on the death of Vincent Van Gogh has emerged: that he did not commit suicide and was in fact shot by a teenage boy.
A new book about the celebrated Dutch painter casts the popular belief that he shot himself in the chest in a field in France into doubt.
Van Gogh: The Life, by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, suggests that the most likely cause of Van Gogh's death is at the hands of a third party, believed to be a local boy.
The theory contradicts the accepted version of events, which holds that Van Gogh shot himself in a field, staggering more than a mile back to an inn where he was staying. Before dying 30 hours later, he was asked if he meant to commit suicide, and said: "Yes I believe so".
But this does not explain why the easel and brushes that he had taken to the fields with him that day, not to mention a gun, were never found, and nor was a suicide note.
The book questions whether the artist, who was known to have spent time in an insane asylum, could have got hold of a gun.
While Naifeh and Smith, accept that "no one knows what happened" , they set out an alternative scenario for the events in Auvers, France.
They believe that the fatal shot was fired by a 16-year-old boy named Rene Secretan, who was spending the summer at a villa nearby and whose complex relationship with Van Gogh included buying drinks for him and teasing him.
The authors claim Van Gogh didn't accuse the boy of shooting him because he welcomed death and didn't want the teenager to be punished.
Van Gogh died in 1890 aged 37.
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