Picton Castle and Gardens

The ‘Picton Renoir’ – On View in Picton Castle

Picton Renoir

This fascinating painting which has caused so much controversy can be seen by the general public when you take a Castle Tour. Please check Tour Dates and Times Before Your Visit.

Picton Renoir mystery solved but causes controversy amongst world’s two leading Art Houses

The ‘Picton Renoir’ was the subject of a gripping programme in the BBCs series “Fake or Fortune” with Philip Mould & Fiona Bruce.  It originally aired in July 2015 and was repeated in September 2017. The programme received a record 5.9 million viewers and unprecedented social media response.

Nicky Philipps, a portrait artist famed for her pictures of the Royal Family, asked the Fake or Fortune team to investigate a painting which hangs on the walls of Picton Castle, once the Philipps family seat.

The work was bought in the 1930s by Nicky’s great-grandfather, Sir Laurence Philipps, who believed it to be by celebrated impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir. However the painting has been dogged by doubt for half a century, and two art world authorities refuse to agree on its pedigree.

Nicky’s late Aunt Gwen used to tell a story that the painting came from Claude Monet’s house in Giverny and was a gift to the artist from Renoir at a time when they painted together. But a family anecdote wasn’t enough to convince both of the art world’s toughest judges – so in a tantalising trail of blind alleys and major new discoveries, the Fake or Fortune team set about gaining some hard evidence.

The trail took Philip to Argenteuil, a suburb of Paris which was once an impressionist playground. During the 1870s, Renoir and Monet worked here together, often painting the same views side by side.

Fiona picked up the provenance trail at Monet’s house in Giverny, where she tried to find proof that the painting once hung in his personal art collection and managed to gain access to some closely guarded archives in Paris.

Then Philip took the painting to Berlin for thorough forensic analysis,where cutting-edge technology was used to determine whether the pigments in Nicky’s painting matched those listed by Renoir himself for the period and where several tests using an infra-red camera also revealed a previously hidden stamp which matched the canvas supplier to the period.

A more sinister reveal was that the picture was caught between two warring art world authorities – the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery and the Wildenstein Institute who both believe their word is the last word when it comes to Renoir – but without both seals of approval, the final approval of the Picton Renoir as genuine remains in dispute.

The Bernheim-Jeune Gallery have approved the painting as genuine and have included it in their listings. However despite producing the most incredible evidence including a paper trail which backs up Aunt Gwen’s story, the Wildenstein Institute still refuse to accept the unsigned painting due to insufficient evidence.

This fascinating painting which has caused so much controversy can be seen by the general public when you take a Castle Tour.

Please check Tour Dates and Times Before Your Visit.

Normal Admissions Apply

What do you think?

16 Responses to “The ‘Picton Renoir’ – On View in Picton Castle”

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  1. where paintings have been within old frames the possibility of lingering DNA traces is there although whether these could be tested without affecting the painting is not known. it seems to me there is extremely persuasive and indeed overwhelming provenance of this art work. it really boils down to an arthouse being proven categorically wrong and their concern that an admission by them then puts into question every other painting they have either rejected or accepted. isn’t this the crux of the matter rather than arthouse rivalry? on another note what a magnificent castle! and its current castellan what an amazing artist she is!

  2. I Think the Wildenstein Institute should look once again at all the evidence and the history of the painting in spite of the fact that the painting is of a poor quality according to the Connoisseur. In the early 1800 were a difficult years for Renoir he was to poor to buy paints or canvas he did’t have a reliable art supplier his canvas ranged in fineness and never came from the same bolt of cloth his paintings were rejected by the Paris salon until the late 1860s.

    In the 1870s he became more aware of the colours he no longer used umber, sienna, or black pigments in his La scine Argenteula 1875, There is a clear evidence that this painting is by Renoir.

    (Proof of the pudding is in the eating)

  3. Why the Wildenstein Institute has not been run out of town after all the allegations of tax fraud and admitted ‘overlooking’ returning or distribution of artworks to entitled hiers is beyond belief. Well done BBC for casting light to a broader public on these devious experts.

  4. I watched the program about the painting on fake or fortune, and based on what the wilenstein institute have said ,does that mean they are saying that every painting around the world may not be by the artist that people think it is by ? If so then the valuation given could be wrong,this could result in a crash in the value of works of art World wide , people will now be wondering if they have a fake because it doesn’t have a signature,do they realise how this will affect the art world?

  5. After watching the repeat of this programme I feel the Wildenstein’s decision, apparently based on a lack of evidence and ‘weakness’ in style, is, at the very least completely illogical. It indicates another force at work though such as a fear of losing face, or wish to continue a very old rivalry. How much more respect they would gain if they had shown themselves able to set the record straight? There is quite sufficient evidence, and all artists produce work to a varying standard surely? In an impasse like this there should be a third port of call in the art-world, completely independent of the other two institutions, which is able to access the evidence and pronounce a rather more sensibly balanced result!

  6. It was also agreed that the picture was unsigned and not a good example of Renoir oeuvre – an alternative and legitimate view What is the picture now worth in the market with those caveats .
    Wildenstein was not the only expert to express reservations,
    . Wildenstein did not say the picture was by another hand – caveat emptor .

  7. After watching the Fake or Fortune programme, I felt physically ill when the verdict was read! They not only dismiss the evidence presented but also the expertise of those researchers and the latest and most modern equipment available today. Their three reasons they provided do not measure in anyway against the proven scientific and methodical detective work presented. There was no comparison! It takes a lot to admit you are wrong and obviously against such findings they still felt it more important to cling to their “reputations” instead of modern scientific and methodical and proven investigative work in comparison to the opposing and documented art house! Wow…! I condemn the “powers that be” for their total arrogance and would add they not to be taken seriously due to being biased, old and completely out of date in the 21st century! Take ownership when you are wrong and be prepared to admit to making mistakes when presented with such overwhelming evidence, documentation and verifiable proof!

  8. I am submitting one more suggestion that might prove beyond a doubt, whether the Picton Renoir painting is real or fake:

    Each person has a signature, just as artists do. Every painting by an artist will reveal a “signature” characteristic of how that artist may or may not sweep his brush, or display a consistency that can be recognized as typical in most all of the artist’s paintings.

    Using Van Gogh as an example; if a computer scanned 3 of his different paintings that was capable of discerning and recording Van Gogh’s particular method of applying paint to canvas, the “signature” of his painting techniques would easily be identified. Then, if someone believes a long lost painting thought to be done by Van Gogh was computer scanned looking for the “Van Gogh signature painting techniques”, the computer program could easily recognize any or all future paintings thought to be painted by the artist and easily determine the fake or real “signature”.

  9. I viewed the PBS broadcast two nights ago and
    Nicky Philipps should consider contacting the Fake or Fortune Team to consider the following questions that came to mind:

    1. The broadcast stated the painting was once located in “his (Monet’s), personal art collection.” Is it possible that the notary, who recorded on the ledger, mistakenly listed Renoir’s painting under the name “Monet” and credited the painting to Monet? Did you carefully check each Monet inventory and verify each of Monet’s paintings to ensure this didn’t happen?

    2. Yes, forensic technology has come a long way, however, were there any Renoir fingerprints located anywhere on the canvas, (including all areas of the canvas before he began to paint, as you saw the stamp), and on the back? The reason I ask is that fingerprints are permanent as proven by the latest laser techniques.

    3. Although forensic analysis and high tech advances were applied to the painting in question, why did you not include a sample of another original documented Renoir painting to determine if the paint used in the disputed Renoir was chemically the exact same molecular composition used in the suspect painting to prove beyond a doubt that Renoir was indeed the painter?

    4. Using the latest technology, is it possible that minute trace DNA could be detected on the painting in question, looking for any DNA source such as sneezing, coughing or extracted from fingerprints?

  10. The provenance and ledger along with all the other evidence is adequate to conclude that it is indeed a Renoir. Wildenstein loses credibility with me and others. Obviously they have been given to much power and it has gone to their heads and reduced their IQ’s to the point that they can no longer make a balanced judgement. Charge a small fee to view the estate and famous Renoir and you will gain more money than putting it up for auction.

  11. Saw the repeat last night. It has to be down to sour grapes on “Gates of Mordor” Wildenstein’s part.
    Good publicity for Picton. I’ll be in the UK when the exhibition is on, and might be able to see it.

  12. Wildenstein will never acknowledge that they originally made a mistake. Also too secretive.
    To err is human.Secrecy the mask of deception.

  13. I concur with the conclusion of other writers that Wildenstein has no basis for withholding its approval. The documentation assembled is unassailable, especially in consideration of Bernheim-jeune Gallery’s ledger entry.


  15. Don’t care much about Wildenstein’s stamp of approval…

    Is the painting up for sales?
    or now that the painting HAS become rather famous, the committee would like to keep it on the wall?

    I would be very much interested in buying this piece ! (No need to pay auction fee)

    If it is for sale, how much would it be?

  16. The word of the Bernheim-jeune Gallery should be sufficient to prove the painting’s genuine. It has the correct date stamp and provenance, and an explanation of how it came to Picton Castle. Artists do paint together. What possible reason does the Wildenstein Institute have for denying it it’s place in Art History? Do they have a personal axe grind here, because they don’t like being proved wrong?

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