Van Gogh Shot By Teen - Not A Suicide

"Van Gogh: The Life," a book by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, casts doubt that Van Gogh shot himself in the chest in a French field in 1890, at 37.

After being shot, Van Gogh staggered over a mile from the field to an inn in Auvers, dying the next day.  The suicide legend begins when it was alleged Van Gogh was asked just before he died if he was trying to commit suicide: "Yes I believe so."   He "believed" so?  Where is the suicide note?  Who shoots themselves in the chest?

The authors posit a different and more substantial explanation: The shot was fired by a 16-year-old boy named Rene Secretan, who lived nearby and was known to have taunted, and teased Van Gogh.

"The accepted understanding of what happened in Auvers among the people who knew him was that he was killed accidentally by a couple of boys and he decide to protect them by accepting the blame," say the authors.

Van Gogh was a troubled soul, no question.  He was famous for rejections by prostitutes, and by the art world in general, resulting in long bouts of depression and stints in asylums.

Who wouldn't be depressed, after all, he was the most brilliant oil artist to put brush to canvas, even arguably, more talented than fellow Dutch painter Rembrandt, but unlike Rembrandt, was utterly rejected and ignored while he was alive.  Much of his work was tossed away by his mother as "trash", priceless works lost to the world now due to ignorance, and lesser minds.

The moral?  Don't trust a teen with a gun, and more importantly, don't assume the world will recognize genius and reward it, it almost never happens.

A brief look at Van Gogh, and his tragic life and end.