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Antique hunting with Roo Irvine Power of provenance W alk into an antique shop or auction house anywhere in world and one question more frequently heard than others is: ‘What’s the provenance?’

Derived from the French ‘provenir’ meaning ‘to come from’ provenance is undeniably one of the most important words in the antique lover’s dictionary. The value of an item can soar if it can be undoubtedly linked to a major event, key figure or a monumental piece of history. It is the dream of every collector - to find that one item at the right time, in the right place with the right name associated with it and retire for life. Recently the gun believed to have been used by Vincent Van Gogh to commit suicide in 1890 sold for over £144,000 at a Paris auction. The story of the weapon is spellbinding - just by knowing its place in history and the part it played in ending the life of one of the world’s greatest, most tortured artists is enough to send shivers down one’s spine. The auction house selling the item described it as “the most famous weapon in art history”. But what proof is there that it really is the gun that killed Van Gogh? The quick answer is none, well at least not enough to satisfy everyone. There

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Vincent van Gogh self portrait (PD)

Profile for Scotland Correspondent

Scotland Correspondent Issue 31