Vincent van Gogh arrived in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, a famous artists’ colony just northwest of Paris, on May 20, 1890. Exactly 70 days later he was dead, succumbing to the after-effects of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. During this final period of 10 weeks, after leaving behind the emotional and physical trauma of his time in Arles, nearly 500 miles to the south, Van Gogh worked furiously, producing more than 70 paintings in a glorious coda to his troubled, eventful career.

A portrait of Paul Gachet, the doctor who some people believe killed Vincent van Gogh.

This intense time—which produced masterworks including Wheatfield with Crows, The Church at Auvers, and two portraits of his doctor Paul Gachet—is the focus of “Van Gogh in Auvers: His Final Months,” a new exhibition that opened yesterday at the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, home to around 200 of the artist’s paintings. The museum’s researchers have put considerable effort into establishing the exact order in which the Auvers paintings were created, scanning meteorologic reports, noting seasonal variations, and deciphering time-sensitive clues in the subjects themselves. In 2012, the museum even identified Van Gogh’s final work—a study of knotty, gnarled tree roots—which he painted on the morning of the shooting.

The nature of his death is not entirely clear. Gachet’s son, also called Paul, wrote in a posthumously published memoir that the artist “shot himself with a revolver in the heart region, on the plain behind the park of the chateau.” In a macabre twist, Van Gogh had painted a view of this picturesque spot a few days earlier in Plain near Auvers. Some have claimed that in fact Van Gogh was shot, possibly accidentally, by local teenagers, a supposition amplified in the 2018 Willem Dafoe film At Eternity’s Gate. Yet others claim that Dr. Gachet killed him. Do any of these hold water? The museum bluntly dismisses these as fully rebutted “conspiracy theories,” and will “not engage,” it says, “with the discussion.”

Undergrowth with Two Figures, 1890.

As for the work itself, the time line shows Van Gogh’s enthusiasms and preoccupations as they unfurl in the last weeks of his life. At one point, in June, he seems obsessed with vases of flowers; later in the same month, he’s doing portraits of young women and girls. Exhibition curator Nienke Bakker says that the predominant image we have of Van Gogh—a razor-wielding, bandage-swathed holy fool—does not apply to this final phase. The ear-cutting, the hallucinations, the disruptive crises—these belong, she says, to his time in Arles, which finished with a yearlong stay in a psychiatric hospital. Auvers, she says, “was a new start. What we see is he worked until the very end, and he produced beautiful paintings in which he really gave all he had.” —Andrew Pulver

“Van Gogh in Auvers: His Final Months” is on at the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, through September 3

Andrew Pulver writes about film for The Guardian and about art for The Art Newspaper. He lives in Oxford