18 Oct 2011

New version of van Gogh's death

6:17 am on 18 October 2011

A new biography of the 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh challenges the accepted wisdom that he committed suicide.

Authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith say it is more likely he was shot accidentally by two boys he knew who had "a malfunctioning gun".

The BBC reports the authors came to their conclusion after 10 years of studying thousands of previously untranslated letters written by the artist.

Their book Van Gogh: The Life was published on Monday.

Van Gogh died in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, in 1890 aged 37.

He had been staying at an inn from where he would walk to wheat fields to paint.

It has long been thought that he shot himself in a wheat field before returning to the inn where he later died. But no gun was found.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam said "plenty of questions remain unanswered" and that it would be "premature to rule out suicide".