Martin Baily of the Art Newspaper published a very interesting story recently about the debate surrounding Vincent Van Gogh's death. In the article, Baily discusses the opposing views of Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (authors of Van Gogh: the Life) and historians Louis van Tilborgh and Teio Meedendorp of the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam.
Naifeh and Smith write in their book that there is evidence that suggests that Van Gogh was shot, perhaps accidentally, by a boy named René Secrétan, and that Van Gogh (who died from his injuries two days later) had lied to protect Secrétan. Tilborgh and Meedendorp refute these claims in the July issue of Burlington Magazine, citing issues in Van Gogh's life, his confession of suicide, and medical records that suggest that the gun was fired at close range by the artist. The debate is a fascinating one and Baily's article is worth the read. The way Van Gogh died says a lot about the artist and could either detract from or add meaning to his final works for many historians and fans of his art.