Experts at the Van Gogh Museum say they remain unconvinced by evidence in a new book that says the 19th century Dutch artist was accidentally shot by two teenagers and did not die from self-inflicted wounds.
The biography of Vincent van Gogh published this week by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith says the artist, who suffered chronic depression, claimed to have shot himself to protect the boys, and that "he was covering up his own murder." He died two days later.
“No physical evidence of the shooting was ever produced,” the writers, who are Pulitzer Prize winners, say in the book. “No gun was ever found.”
The book, “Van Gogh: The Life,” also says that the artist left no suicide note, and that the angle of the bullet woould be unusual for a suicide. Their theory: Van Gogh was shot by the teenage brother of a friend. The teen reportedly carried a gun and was known to have teased the artist, who, they say, “had a history of violent outbursts.”
But Leo Jansen, the museum curator and editor of Van Gogh's letters, said the biography, "Van Gogh, A Life," is a "great book." But experts "cannot yet agree" with the authors' conclusions about the painter's death.
Still, Jansen acknowledged Monday that the book revives enough unanswered questions to warrant another look.
Van Gogh died in 1890 at the age of 37. Appreciated by only a few people during his short lifetime, he is now generally considered one of the most important and influential artists in history, and his works are among the most expensive ever sold.