Vincent left the mental asylum in Saint-Rémy, to which he had admitted himself, after he cut off his ear during an argument with Gauguin, in May 1890. He went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise, a village north of Paris, which was a famous residence for artists at the time. There, in the countryside, he found the peace he needed but was still near enough to Paris to visit his brother Theo, to whom he was very close and who supported him financially.
He soon befriended the medical doctor Paul Gachet, who was an amateur painter himself and who kept an eye on Vincent’s health. Gachet advised Vincent to immerse himself into his art, which he did thoroughly. He painted the wheatfields and gardens around the village and produced a significant number of paintings within a short period. During this time, Vincent devoted himself entirely to his art, and his health seemed to be improving.
Theo helped his brother Vincent financially just as before, as again he was broke due to the high cost of living at the time and couldn’t support himself with his art. When Vincent visited his brother in Paris in July 1890, he found out that his brother was planning to give up his job at the gallery, which he had managed for years, to set up his own business. This was a great financial risk, and Vincent was worried that his brother might not be able to support him anymore.
He returned to Auvers with a heavy heart. The financial insecurity, and worry about the future, weighed heavy on Vincent and took its toll on his health. Although Theo wrote to Vincent repeatedly to reassure him, he fell into what seemed like a deep depression.
Vincent continued to paint feverishly out in the countryside, but his uncertainty about the future and his illness began to overwhelm him. Only three weeks after visiting Theo in Paris, he went out into a wheat field to paint and returned with a seemingly self-inflicted shot wound from a pistol in his chest. He staggered back to his room in the Auberge Ravoux, where he was discovered by his friend, the doctor Paul Gachet. His brother Theo rushed to his bedside and was with him when he died of his injuries two days after the shooting. He was thirty-seven years old.
In recent years, it has often been questioned whether Vincent really shot himself or whether he was murdered. In 2011, the authors of a new biography of the artist, claim that he was shot, possibly accidentally, by a sixteen-year-old schoolboy, who had been taunting him. This shocking and intriguing theory has been thoroughly explored by two research experts, who found no evidence to support the dramatic claim. Nevertheless, the mystery around the exact circumstances around Vincent’s death remains.