The ‘Picton Renoir’ – On View in the Castle Until 31 October 2017

Picton Renoir


The ‘Picton Renoir’ was the subject of a gripping programme in the latest series of the BBCs “Fake or Fortune” with Philip Mould & Fiona Bruce which aired on Sunday (12 July 2015). 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 in Picton Castle. Normal Admissions Apply

What do you think?

7 Responses to “The ‘Picton Renoir’ – On View in the Castle Until 31 October 2017” [latest first]

  1. 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?

  2. 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?


  4. 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.

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 Wildenstein will never acknowledge that they originally made a mistake.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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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