Vincent van Gogh got up at daybreak as usual on July 27, 1890, on what was expected to be just another sunny, hot, and humid day in Auvers-sur-Oise, France--a lovely bustling yet bucolic vacationers' getaway only 20 miles from the havoc of an equally sweltering, muggy, and notably congested Paris. He had been discharged from the Saint-Remy Asylum a little more than two months prior to this day, "cured" of his mental and physical ailments, and now was settled at an inn owned by the Ravoux family in Auvers.
The Ravouxes provided this unusual and quirky painter with a spartan attic bedroom with a skylight window, a studio-like room to paint, places to dry and store his many canvases, and all meals at their inn. Van Gogh painted their lovely teenage daughter Adeline several times while he stayed there.
After taking his breakfast at the inn that fateful day, Van Gogh headed out. Did he leave with all his art equipment intending to paint in nature, as was his routine, or did he have a very different agenda that morning? No one thought anything was unusual that Sunday morning in July. Van Gogh returned to the inn for lunch and quickly departed again; he finally returned for good after dinnertime, without any of his painting supplies or a last canvas, but with an ultimately fatal abdominal wound.
There were no witnesses to his wounding; there was no weapon or bullet in hand; and there was no known crime scene. Any investigator would have come away with an empty evidence bag and no certain place to search. The most-basic details--where Van Gogh was injured, what weapon caused the injury, or what happened to his belongings, particularly that last canvas art historians believed him to be working on that fateful Sunday--are not known to this day and may never be definitively proven or accepted.
It is very strange even to speculate about why, on that summer day in Auvers, when the vacationer population often doubled and most everyone was outside trying to catch a breeze, nobody heard a gunshot or seemed to notice the strange red-headed painter returning injured from his outing. It is hard to imagine that not one person saw Van Gogh staggering back to the center of the village and toward the Ravoux Inn that Sunday eve from any place or any direction, presumably holding his bleeding belly and hiding his bloodstained shirt. Many believe he was injured in a wheat field, but which one? Everything in Auvers-sur-Oise was surrounded by wheat fields.