The rusty gun which Van Gogh probably used to shoot himself sold for â‚¬162,500 at a Drouot auction in Paris this afternoon. ArtAuction RÃ©my le Fur, which estimated the revolver at â‚¬40,000-â‚¬60,000, describes it as â€œthe most famous weapon in art historyâ€. The private buyer has not been named.
Although the seller has also not been identified by the auctioneer, she is believed to be RÃ©gine Tagliana, an artist and the daughter of Roger and Micheline Tagliana, who in 1952 had bought the cafÃ© where Van Gogh lodged in 1890. The Tagliana family were given the gun in around 1960 by the farmer who had found it on his land, just behind the chÃ¢teau in Auvers-sur-Oise. This is the village just north of Paris where the artist spent his final 70 days.
The auctioned Lefaucheux pinfire revolver is almost certainly the weapon used, although this cannot be conclusively proved. The type of weapon, its calibre, its severely corroded state and the location and circumstances of the find strongly suggest it is the gun. In the evening of 27 July 1890 Van Gogh suffered a gunshot wound while in a wheatfield and he then staggered back to the inn, dying two days later.
The discovery of the gun once again raises the question of whether Van Gogh committed suicide or was murdered. The 2011 biography by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argued that he was killed by a local young man, RenÃ© SecrÃ©tan, possibly by accident.
Hyperallergic reports on an intriguing opportunity to buy a junk gun that just
have an important historical connection. On the other hand, some drunken clochard might simply have lost it sleeping in the field.
Any shmoe with a spare $25-$100 million dollars can land themselves an original Vincent Van Gogh painting, but this June, only one lucky bidder can go home with a singular piece of art history: the gun that was allegedly used by the eccentric painter to kill himself. As reported by the Associated Press, a 7mm pocket revolver found in a field in the northern French village of Auvers-sur-Oise â€” where Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in the chest on July 27, 1890 â€” will go up for auction in Paris at the Drouot auction center, on June 19.
â€œThe gun offered in this sale was found in this field by a farmer around 1960 and was handed to the current ownerâ€™s mother,â€ said the auction website. â€œWriter Alain Rohan investigated this case and wrote the book Did we find the suicide weapon? in 2012. Several pieces of evidence show it must be Van Goghâ€™s suicide gun: it was discovered where Van Gogh shot it; its caliber (7 mm) is the same as the bullet retrieved from the artistâ€™s body as described by the doctor at the time; scientific studies demonstrate that the gun had stayed in the ground since the 1890s and finally, it is a low power gun so it could explain why Van Gogh didnâ€™t instantly die after shooting it.â€
The painter died two days later of his apparently self-inflicted injuries â€” although another recent theory is that Van Gogh did not inflict this wound himself.
â€œAnother theory about Van Goghâ€™s death appeared in 2011,â€ says the Drouot website, referencing a controversial biography, Van Gogh: The Life, by authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, which makes several dramatic revisionist claims, based on 10 years of study with more than 20 translators and researchers. â€œAccording to [two] American researchers, the artist didnâ€™t kill himself. He would have been the victim of an accident. [Two] young boys were playing with a gun next to him when one of them pressed the trigger by mistake and wounded him. However, even if this assumption is right, the weapon could still be the one that killed Van Gogh. The gun would have been left in the field.â€
Either way, the gun was included in a 2016 exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and his Illness, which deals with multiple aspects of the painterâ€™s notoriously troubled mental health, and is expected to fetch â‚¬40,000â€“60,000 (~$45,000â€“67,000) at auction. It certainly represents a unique offering for obsessive Van Gogh fans, gun collectors, and historical true crime enthusiasts.
We live in an appalling age. When the White House requested a (conventionally granted) loan of a painting by Van Gogh from New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the kind of request that constitutes an honor and an opportunity for institutional service to the nation, the museum’s chief curator proved incapable of rising above the most vicious kind of political partisanship and responded with a crude gesture of vulgarity designed to express the highest degree of contempt while supposedly flourishing that establishmentarian curator’s skill at drawing upon the canon of the Arts.
The Washington Post gloatingly reported:
The emailed response from the Guggenheimâ€™s chief curator to the White House was polite but firm: The museum could not accommodate a request to borrow a painting by Vincent van Gogh for President and Melania Trumpâ€™s private living quarters.
Instead, wrote the curator, Nancy Spector, another piece was available, one that was nothing like â€œLandscape With Snow,â€ the 1888 van Gogh rendering of a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, France, with his dog.
The curatorâ€™s alternative: an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet â€” an interactive work titled â€œAmericaâ€ that critics have described as pointed satire aimed at the excess of wealth in this country.
For a year, the Guggenheim had exhibited â€œAmericaâ€ â€” the creation of contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan â€” in a public restroom on the museumâ€™s fifth floor for visitors to use.
But the exhibit was over and the toilet was available â€œshould the President and First Lady have any interest in installing it in the White House,â€ Spector wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post.
The artist â€œwould like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan,â€ wrote Spector, who has been critical of Trump. â€œIt is, of course, extremely valuable and somewhat fragile, but we would provide all the instructions for its installation and care.â€
Proving that the big brains at the Guggenheim, who so look down on Trump, are actually the kind of idiots willing to accept a gold-plated toilet, created as a slur on the same free enterprise system that funded the Guggenheim’s creation, as “art” worthy of presentation by a major museum. I’ve seen Donald Trump’s interior design choices, and I could picture Donald Trump having gold-plated thunderboxes in his penthouse, but he’d be sensible enough to use them practically. Trump wouldn’t take a gold-plated crapper as some kind of artistic statement unlike the dodos sitting atop our arts establishment.
Can anyone picture the head of a prominent museum, just a few decades ago, indulging in such a spiteful, vulgar, and scatological expression of partisanship? People simply did not behave like that. They had enough good sense to recognize that no political party possessed a monopoly of good intentions or virtue and that one’s preferred side inevitably sometimes lost. If someone in a responsible position did not happen to like the current occupant of the White House, he simply did his job and kept his feelings and political opinions to himself. Today’s establishment is made up of self-righteous simpletons, eaten up with self-entitlement, lacking common sense, decency, and good manners.