My father’s weakness – that is, his inability to say no to anyone – was well known. Certain swindlers knew that if they could approach him, even in some round-about way, they had a good chance of obtaining a picture from him.
‘Monsieur Renoir,’ – he had been warned that addressing my father as ‘Master’ always put him in bad humour – ‘I have just bought one of your pictures. I used all my savings for it, and even got a loan on my pension and mortgaged my little house in Etampes. The only trouble is that it is not signed.’
The picture was a shockingly obvious forgery. But Renoir said to him, ‘Leave it with me, and I’ll touch it up a bit.’
He repainted it completely and signed it, and it was a wonder he did not buy a frame for the crook, who marched off with a small fortune.