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Renoir masterpiece brought home by island art collectors

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ONE of Renoir’s Guernsey masterpieces has arrived back home for the first time since it was painted more than 100 years ago, thanks to a group of local art collectors.

Art for Guernsey successfully arranged and syndicated the acquisition of the original oil-on-canvas Rochers de Guernesey avec personnages (plage à Guernesey) painted in Guernsey by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and it will soon be on show at a trailblazing exhibition taking place in the autumn.

Widely considered to be one of the best pieces Renoir painted during his month-long stay in the island in 1883, it is one of just five of the original Guernsey-painted pieces still in private hands.

The other 10 sit in major museum collections, including in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in London and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Art for Guernsey founder David Ummels said the syndicate group of local art collectors had purchased the piece in February from Christies Auction House for £443,250.

‘This has been an amazing acquisition,’ he said.

‘To be able to return this artwork home is incredible and we can’t wait to be able to share it with the community.

‘It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I can’t imagine another of these Renoir paintings in Guernsey coming back up for sale – it may be 10 years or longer if one is seen on sale again.’

The purchase of the famous Impressionist’s work follows last year’s successful Renoir Walk that was recently granted planning permission to remain a permanent fixture in Moulin Huet valley.

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He added that the group now wanted to capitalise on the community’s response to this walk and expand on the hugely important role that the island played for Renoir, as well as the role Renoir has and continues to play for the island.

‘This in itself opens many doors for collaboration in terms of curating, research and cultural exchanges as we intend to actively capitalise on the artwork to engage and promote Guernsey positively,’ said Mr Ummels.

‘I am proud to live in a place where a group of people can so easily come together and resolve to do something for the common good, just because it is the right thing to do.

‘This unique goodwill makes Guernsey a very special place.’

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Art for Guernsey will be putting together a free exhibition at Beau Sejour from 28 September-6 October for all islanders to view it.

They will also be creating an opportunity for all Bailiwick schools to engage directly with the artwork, with the aim of kick-starting an ‘Art in School’ season that will allow students to respond to Renoir’s art through their curriculum.

‘We are bringing back this artwork where it belongs for the right reasons, namely to inspire the children and the local community, support the local tourism industry and, in the future, curate an international exhibition highlighting how Guernsey played a key role inspiring Renoir’s career,’ added Mr Ummels.

‘We would like to express our thanks to the art collectors who came together for the common good of Guernsey and we look forward to celebrating with islanders in the autumn at our exciting show.’

Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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