Was Vincent Van Gogh Murdered?

Was Vincent Van Gogh Murdered?

A troubled genius, famed for his self

deprecation and vibrant landscapes; Vincent Van Gogh is admired across the

world. Though was his untimely end merely a simple tragedy?


Van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert in Holland

on March 30th 1853 to a pastor father and was brought up in a highly

religious and cultured environment.


he showed an aptitude for drawing from an early age, the young man didn’t

choose to become an artist until his late twenties instead beginning his career

working for an art dealer travelling between The Hague,

London and Paris.

During this period he lived in Amsterdam for a year with his Uncle Jan at a house

still standing next to the Dutch Maritime Museum, frequenting three or four

Sunday services in one day including


Kerk, Agnietenkapel, Begijnhof and Zuiderkerk – (follow in his footsteps by

staying in one of our apartments close by)


of his early aspirations was to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Pastor

and acted as a missionary in the mining region of Borinage in Belgium. It was

here that he began to sketch the locals and once relieved of his duties as for

overzealousness decided to study art in Belgium. Here he painted his first notable


The Potato Eaters in 1885

. The following year he travelled to Paris to work with his

brother Theo where he became acquainted with the impressionist movement and no

doubt met with the likes of


Gaugin and Monet. His work was influenced greatly by the Impressionist

movement where his pallet became brighter and his brush stroked shorter.


moved down to the south of France

in Arles

where the quality of light and colour influenced his work further. With the

intention of setting up an artist’s colony in the south, van Gogh persuaded Gaugin

to join him. Throughout his life van Gogh had been plagued by low moods,

depression and fits which was exacerbated by his penchant for


Towards the end of 1888 on one occasion, in a fit of mania he threatening

Gaugin with an open razor which culminated in van Gogh severing part of his ear lobe (not

his whole ear as often believed) and giving it to a prostitute as a gift. The residents of Arles petitioned to have him

sectioned for his own safety and he was moved to an asylum in Saint-Remy for

treatment where he produced his masterpiece




1890 his condition had improved and he moved to


under the supervision of his consultant Dr Gauchet. Here the open air and

vistas of wheat fields inspired van Gogh to produce his greatest works; though

even at this point of better health he was still incapacitated by his fits of

madness which stopped him working for long periods. Two months later he had committed suicide by shooting

himself in the fields where he painted and died in his bed from his gun-shot


This was the accepted truth until writers Naifeh and

Smith produced a biography in 2011 citing that there is evidence to suggest

that van Gogh was shot accidentally by a teenager whom he did not wish to take

the blame.

Rene Secretan at the time was a young man of about 18 who

dressed as a cowboy and loved guns.

Their logic calls forth the trajectory of the bullet which was at an

angle and not straight as a self inflicted wound would be.

Van Gogh had mentioned in previous correspondence with

others of his distaste for suicide labeling it immoral and a sin. So why would

van Gogh protect this youngster who according to locals had been tormenting the

artist? Perhaps he felt that he had been done a


– having not the

stomach or ethics to have committed suicide himself, he may have welcomed the

accident as an end to his suffering. Though some of the works he produced

immediately prior to his death are his most vibrant and positive. Experts have said that it would have been

impossible for van Gogh to have walked the mile or so from the field where he

said the shooting took place back to his lodgings and so the incident must have

taken place closer; could he have used this as a rouse to protect his killer?

Van Gogh experts all over the world have different

opinions many accepting that his death was by suicide citing his history of

mental health. Medical experts today have put his conditions down to a brain

lesion he was born with which caused him to have epileptic fits; this coupled

with his excessive consumption of absinthe would have made the condition

worse. Periods of extreme dedication to

his religion and later in producing artwork followed by deep states of

depression and melancholy would today be diagnosed as a bi-polar disorder.

Believing that the genius did chop his ear and then

commit suicide helps perpetuate the myth and the infamy of the artist and his

work and to some extent this has worked. If it had been accepted that he had

died from an accident it may have done nothing to arouse interest and intrigue

in his work and made him one of the world’s renowned artists.



– Our article on the National Maritime Museum.

www.blog.amsterdamapartments.com/van-gogh-museum.html – Our article about the Van Gogh Museum.