On this date in 1890, 122 years ago, the greatest painter who ever lived, in my humble opinion, shot himself in the chest. He died two days later of infection. There is some speculation that van Gogh did not shoot himself, that he was accidentally shot by a third party, or accidentally shot himself. One thing is for sure, we’ll never really know.
Over the years, there has been a lot of speculation about what ailed van Gogh:
Diagnoses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy and acute intermittent porphyria. Any of these could have been the culprit and been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia and consumption of alcohol, especially absinthe.
Whatever it was, van Gogh’s was a tortured soul. I wonder if he would have been a better painter with a healthy mind? Maybe, maybe not. It’s my thought that our experiences — social, physical, and psychological — bring us to any given point in our lives, and everything we do is colored by those experiences.
For van Gogh, his experiences and talent led him to an amazingly productive period in his life, even as his mind was slipping away. It seems he did the only thing he could do — paint beautiful pictures.
I used to think that our life experiences always brought us to where we needed to be, and that it was usually a good thing. I no longer think it works that way for everyone, and I think Vincent van Gogh might agree.
This is our daily open thread — What are we drinking tonight? :)