Forgive me, I must weigh in. Just watched the 60 Minutes segment (double!) promoting the new Van Gogh biography which has been touted as offering a new theory about Van Gogh’s death. It was great to see the footage of Auvers and the Auberge Ravoux where Van Gogh died but authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith suggests that Van Gogh was shot by a couple of young men fooling around with a borrowed gun. One of their sources is the estimable scholar John Rewald who visited Auvers in the 1930s, and relayed a story told by an interview subject’s grandmother. Another source is a minor historian, Victor Doiteau, who tells of a youth called René Secrétan who teased Van Gogh dreadfully during July of 1890 in Auvers. (Doiteau himself doesn’t dispute the suicide.) Old gossip, in both cases, possible but not definitive. Against this, Van Gogh’s deathbed statement to the innkeeper Ravoux — that “If I have failed, I will just have to do it over again.” And to Theo, “I did it for us all.”
I’m not saying the explanation offered in Leaving Van Gogh is the truth. But it sure is a more satisfying story!
Update: evidently the scholars at the Van Gogh Museum are not convinced by the Naifeh/Smith theory either.