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September 8, 2021

Here’s the Gun That Vincent van Gogh Is Believed to Have Used to Kill Himself

The gun believed to have been used by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh to take his own life was sold at the Drouot auction house in Paris on June 19, 2019, as “the most famous weapon in art history.”


The unnamed buyer bought the corroded 7mm caliber Lefaucheux revolver for €162,500 (£144,000; $182,000), almost three times more than expected. The gun’s trigger is pulled back, frozen in place, some think cementing the moment in which it would have dropped from Van Gogh’s grasp. Its purchase has reignited the debate over whether Van Gogh died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In 1960, the weapon was found by a farmer in the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, just north of Paris. It is there that Van Gogh is widely believed to have shot himself in the chest on July 27, 1890.


Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert, in the predominantly Catholic province of North Brabant in the Netherlands. He moved to Paris in 1886, joining his brother, Theo, who ran an art gallery in Montmartre. He spent the most prolific years of his career in France, inspired by his friends Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard, and meetings with Impressionists Georges Seurat, Camille Pissaro and Paul Signac.

Attracted by the bright light of Provence in southern France, he moved to the small town of Arles in 1888. His post-Impressionist friend, Paul Gauguin, stayed with him in his “Yellow House” for several months. After a year in a mental asylum, Van Gogh passed the last months of his life in Auvers-Sur-Oise. There he was under the care of doctor and amateur painter Paul Gauchet, the subject of a famous 1890 portrait.

On 27 July 1890, aged 37, Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in the chest. There were no witnesses and he died 30 hours after the incident. The shooting may have taken place in the wheat field in which he had been painting, or a local barn. The bullet was deflected by a rib and passed through his chest without doing apparent damage to internal organs – probably stopped by his spine. He was able to walk back to the Auberge Ravoux, where he was attended to by two doctors, but without a surgeon present the bullet could not be removed. The doctors tended to him as well as they could, then left him alone in his room, smoking his pipe.

The following morning, Theo rushed to his brother’s side, finding him in good spirits. But within hours Vincent began to fail, suffering from an untreated infection resulting from the wound. He died in the early hours of July 29. According to Theo, Vincent’s last words were: “The sadness will last forever.”




1 comment:

  1. With no provenance, and so little known about the circumstances of VanGogh's shooting, this is nothing but a rusty old gun frame. Perpetuating art fraud such as this is shameful.

    ReplyDelete



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