Vincent van Gogh's death possibly not a suicide

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Vincent Van Gogh's Death Possibly Not A Suicide

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most famous painters in history. His death, from alleged suicide, has been brought into question as potentially being an accidental homicide.

Pulitzer-prize winning authors of Van Gogh's biography, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, visited the Van Gogh Foundation Archives in 2001 to begin their 10-year examination of letters and other artifacts linked to the painter, according to Vanity Fair.

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Vincent van Gogh's death possibly not a suicide
In this photo provided by the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in Otterlo on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 the 1887 painting "Self-portrait" by Vincent van Gogh is seen. With the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam closed for renovations, the world's second-largest collection of the tortured Dutch master's work is stepping into the limelight. The lesser-known Kroeller-Mueller museum in the eastern Netherlands has revamped the layout of its central rooms, giving more space and focus to many of its top works. (AP Photo/ Kroeller-Mueller Museum)
Vincent Van Gogh "Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat" 1887
The Bedroom By Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh, Roadway with Underpass The Viaduct. 1887. Post-Impressionism. Oil on canvas. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Close up detail of "Girl In White" by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890 - Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC USA
In this Oct. 14, 2014 photo, Vincent van Gogh's "Tarascon Stagecoach" is displayed as part of the High Museum's new exhibit, "Cezanne and the Modern: Masterpieces of European Art from the Pearlman Collection," in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
One of Vincent van Gogh's "The Postman Joseph Roulin," is photographed on display at The Phillips Collection museum in Washington, Tuesday, October 8, 2013. Amid the shutdown of federal museums, the private Phillips Collection is launching the first major exhibition of Vincent van Gogh's artwork in Washington in 15 years. The new exhibit examines some of van Gogh's best-known paintings to look at how and why he repeated certain compositions during his 10-year career. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
A gallery assistant poses with Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait (December 1886-January 1887), during a preview viewing of the 'Van Gogh in Paris' exhibition at the Eykyn Maclean gallery in central London on September 25, 2013. Running from September 26 to November 29, 2013, the collection features work by the artist, as well as works by those who inspired him during his two years in the French capital. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Employees of the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam hang up the famous Dutch painter's self portrait with easel dated from 1888 prior to the reopening of the museum, in Amsterdam on May 1, 2013. According to media information the museum was renovated for several months with more than 10,000 square meters of walls painted and about 2,300 square meters of parquet floor laid. Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum reopened its doors to the public with a stunning new display of some of the Dutch master's greatest works, completing a trio of renovations of the city's most famous museums. AFP PHOTO / ANP -KOEN VAN WEEL = netherlands out RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY CREDIT OF THE ARTIST, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images)
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Van Gogh died in 1890 from a gunshot wound to his abdomen, but it took him 29 hours to succumb to his injury. It's now been theorized that the artist was accidentally shot by a 16-year-old boy, Rene Secretan, and confessed to shooting himself on his deathbed in order to protect the teen, according to The Independent.

This stems from multiple inconsistencies in the story, including the fact that Van Gogh never left behind a suicide note. He had also mailed a letter to his brother, Theo, on the day of his death where his tone was happy and showing a positive outlook for his future.

Guns at the time left a lot of black powder residue on the user's palm after firing, and reportedly his hands were clean. At close range, residue should have also been visible. Van Gogh would also have needed to contort himself to aim the gun at the angle which he was shot, and likely use his left hand, even though he was right-handed.

Dr. Vincent di Maio, a leading expert on handguns, said after reviewing forensic evidence compiled by the authors, "It is my opinion that, in all medical probability, the wound incurred by Van Gogh was not self-inflicted. In other words, he did not shoot himself."

While Naifeh and Smith's accounts have led to some backlash, their opinion of the famed artist's death appears to be more plausible. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to ever truly know what happened on July 27th, 1890.

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