Cannes. Hôtel Californie – Georges d’Espagnat came for lunch yesterday; we drove to Maugin’s – he with us – and we deposited him at station at 4.15. He had come from Renoir’s villa at Cagnes. He reported how Renoir’s pictures 15 years ago were admitted by dealers to be unsalable. Now the slightest sketch fetches 4 or 5000 francs. And pictures which formerly had a theoretical price of 5000 frs sell for 70 or 80,000. Dealers came down from Paris while d’Espagnat was at Renoir’s, and bought and paid for everything Renoir would let them take away. He had been a terrific worker, and in spite of very large sales, still has 2 or 300 pictures to be disposed of. He now lives luxuriously. Formerly dans la dèche, d’Espagnat had known him rent splendid houses in which he could not put furniture. He is 71, and scarcely able to move a limb. Cannot rise without help. Has to be carried about. Yet manages to paint, even large canvases. He said to d’Espagnat that were it not for ill health, old age would be a very happy time, as it has all sorts of pleasures special to itself. Although so old, he has a son aged only about ten. This child came as a surprise, and Renoir was furious.
Arnold Bennett Journals, January 6th 1911