A film documenting a collectors obsession with Renoir is making it’s way to cinemas in Stroud and Cheltenham from 23 February.

The film, made by Exhibition on Screen – renowned for bringing blockbuster art exhibitions from galleries around the world to viewers in cinemas  – chronicles the vast private collection of Renoirs acquired by self-made millionaire chemist, Albert C Barnes.

Barnes amassed an enormous collection of art by many artists, but it was the 181 Renoirs in his collection that caught Exhibition on Screen’s attention: “We were approached by the Barnes Foundation who said ‘we really love Exhibition on Screen and would we consider making a film about their collection’,” said the award-winning director of the film, Phil Grabsky.

“I’d heard of the Barnes Foundation but never been so I went to visit and, while one day I will make a film about the whole collection, what really struck me was the huge collection of Renoirs. Why did AC Barnes have such a fascination for Renoir that he bought 181 of them?”

He added: “Plus they are different to the wonderful impressionist works we know so well by Renoir – that was intriguing.”

Many of the works featured in the documentary have been white-washed a little from the history books, as they are from Renoirs later period, where he moved from his impressionist style and returned to a more classical way of painting – much to the dismay of art critics. Feminists also weren’t to keen on his later works, viewing the large amounts of round, bare flesh misogynistic.

Despite this, Albert C Barnes wasn’t the only one to enjoy them, both Picasso and Henri Matisse admired them greatly, despite their controversy; but up until now very few except those closest to Barnes geographically, had had an opportunity to appreciate the works.

Grabsky says: “Initially he kept his extraordinary collection – some say it is the finest private collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works in the world – for his workers, then for students. Now anyone can see it but only at the Barnes Foundation itself – these pictures never travel. They are never loaned.”

Maybe this documentary will start a new debate on the latter works of Renoir…watch the trailer now.

Renoir – Revered and Reviled is at the Vue cinema in Stroud on Tuesday, February 23 at 6.50pm and Cineworld in Cheltenham on March 16 from 6.45pm.

> Go back to Renoir profile
> See more on the Exhibition on Screen website